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The training ground press room was jam-packed on Wednesday afternoon when head coach Olaf Janssen faced the media before the season opener at Bochum. The 50-year-old spoke in detail about Friday evening's opponents and also named his first-team keeper.

"I'm really glad pre-season is over," said Janssen, opening his remarks. "I'm glad the theoretical part is done and we can go back to reality. On Friday it's all about goals and points again – it's a nice moment for me as a coach and for my players. We can focus on the league from now on. The opening game of the season is a special occasion, the icing on the cake."

The St. Pauli boss has very nearly a full squad at his disposal for the trip to Bochum. As for last week's dress rehearsal against Werder Bremen, long-term absentees Philipp Ziereis and Ryo Miyaichi plus Jeremy Dudziak, who will probably return to action in the friendly against Stoke City on Tuesday (kick-off: 1830 CET), are the only players missing. Asked whether there was any need to change the side that beat Bremen, he replied: "We don't have to, but we can."

"It was a decision pro Robin rather than against Philipp."
Olaf Janssen

Janssen may have been reluctant to reveal the identity of his ten outfield players, but he did say who would keep goal at Bochum: "It's a very good situation for me as a coach to have two quality keepers in Robin Himmelmann and Philipp Heerwagen but we've decided Robin will be our No1." The decision was announced jointly with goalkeeper coach Mathias Hain. "His opinion was extremely important," said Janssen. "I have to stress that it was a decision pro Robin rather than against Philipp. He's given everything that's made him stand out in recent years, and having looked at the performances he had his nose just in front."

Heerwagen was bitterly disappointed but responded to the decision very well, according to Janssen. "Everyone knows Philipp had a major hand in keeping us in the second division. He won't lose his special standing in the squad. He's a leader within the club and it's not without reason that he's on the team committee."

"The game will be a test, both physically and mentally."
Olaf Janssen

Janssen then turned his attention to Friday's opponents, saying: "It's going to be a completely different game to the one on the final day last season and we have to be prepared for that." The 50-year-old described the way the players had responded to the change at the helm – head coach Gertjan Verbeek was sacked on 11 July and replaced by Ismail Atalan – as "impressive". "It hasn't been long but the new coach's hallmark is already in evidence," he said. "We've seen them a number of times in pre-season and the players look unshackled and are really enjoying their football."

Referring to Bochum's 2-2 draw against Borussia Dortmund in their final warm-up game, Janssen said: "We have to be ready for an extremely attacking and aggressive style of play from them. They haven't been packing the defence, far from it. They've attempted to take the game to their opponents. They break quickly on winning possession and I expect them to really put us through the mixer on Friday night. The game will be a test, both physically and mentally. It won't be enough to be up for the challenge, we'll have to keep a cool head to withstand the pressure. Obviously we'll have to find our solutions and do our own stuff on the pitch, but my players have the ability to do that."


Photos: Witters


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