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The Boys in Brown start the new campaign at FC Kaiserslautern on Saturday (13.00 CET). Head coach Fabian Hürzeler took time out on Thursday morning to look ahead to the meeting with the Red Devils at the pre-match news conference.

Fabian Hürzeler on…

...the injury situation: “Oladapo Afolayan resumed full training yesterday. Etienne Amenyido still has a few minor problems, but we hope he’ll be back soon. Adam Dźwigała and Maurides are making progress. Otherwise, everyone’s available.”

...the development of the team: “There are definitely still some weak points that I won’t go into here but have picked up on internally. We won’t allow ourselves to be distracted by the results in pre-season and the second half of last season. We’ve analysed them and seen there are still things we can do better. No one here’s going to get complacent and think things will continue as they are and we’ll win every game. We know very well that it’s hard work, week in, week out.”

...the importance of a good start: “It’s important for the atmosphere inside the club and for every single one of us that we make a good start and that’s what we’ll try to do at the Betzenberg. That said, we know the first game of the season isn’t decisive for the outcome of the season. Important is how well you perform during the season and how well you manage to get consistency in your game. If you make a poor start, it doesn’t mean you can write the rest of the season off. It depends on how well you respond to setbacks.”

...the opening game in the Betzenberg atmosphere: “We’re expecting a full house and thus lots of fans who’ll be against us. It’ll be a special atmosphere and so we’ll be playing not just the team on the pitch but also the one in the stands.”

...opponents Kaiserslautern: “They like to get the ball forward quickly to get in behind the defence. We know what to expect off the ball. They hold a deep line and use a man-oriented approach in defence. They also like to defend forward and in the pockets. They look to win the ball so they can switch the play quickly. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

...this year’s second division and the targets for the season: “It’s such an evenly balanced league. The competition has increased with the teams who’ve come down and all the clubs who’ve expressed an ambition to get promoted. Schalke will play a big role, they’re clear favourites for me. Our ambition on the pitch is to win every game and that’s the target as well, no doubt about it. Then we’ll see how well we can do in this league. It’ll be important for us to get consistency in our performances and our development. We have to be a team no one likes to play against and that’s what I expect of my team.”

...being touted as promotion favourites: “It doesn’t matter. We prepare for every opponent as professionally as possible and have to perform to the best of our ability in every game. Games in the second division will always be 50:50 affairs, so we won’t be underestimating anyone and instead will do everything we can to have the best possible preparation. We’ll obviously try to carry on where we left off last season, but we know it didn’t happen just like that, it was the result of some hard work. We also had that bit of luck you need, and we’ll have to earn it again. We’ve built a foundation we can take into the new season, but we start from scratch again.”


Photos: Witters