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Because Markus Kauczinski took the spur-of-the-moment decision to give his players Sunday off after the 2-0 home win over Fürth, the St. Pauli boss took time out after the official press conference to answer more questions from the Hamburg media.

Kauczinski began by looking back at the 90 minutes once again, expressing his satisfaction with his team's defensive work: "We've constantly been getting a foot in the way just lately. We cleared two off the line against Bochum and also survived a few scares against Fürth. We're oozing assurance at the moment."

The stability at the back is not the only thing pleasing the gaffer: "We were clinical and good in possession," he said. "We knew it would be a different game than the one against Bochum, that we'd have possession and would have to do more for the game. We did that very well, but we also had four or five situations in each half where we weren't tidy or precise enough and needlessly gave the ball away. You could see we were perhaps a little tired there."

Kauczinski had words of praise for several individual performances. "It was another good display by Florian Carstens, who was extremely focused in his tackling," he said of the young centre-back, who stood in for the suspended Philipp Ziereis and made a successful home debut, not only because of his goal. "Apart from one or two situations on the ball, he was top-class."

Commenting on the opening goal by Carstens following a corner, Kauczinski said: "It isn't the first time we've done it, but our corners had been poor in the previous two games. This time, the ball in and the run into space, which we had discussed earlier, were just right."

Kauczinski also hailed Jan-Philipp Kalla, who produced another strong showing against Fürth after his "cold start" at Bochum: "He's always capable of a performance like that. He did really well. I hope to see some consistency from 'Schnecke' in that he keeps going and gives a repeat performance in the next game."

The performance of Ryo Miyaichi gave Kauczinski no grounds for complaint either, as he was keen to point out: "Ryo played really well and is improving all the time. The games and the rhythm are doing him good. We've brought him on carefully in the last few weeks and months and are reaping the benefits now."

On the subject of benefits, the 31-point haul at the halfway point is paying off for the players: "A total of 30 points would have meant we resumed on 5 January, more than 30 points on 6 January. And that's the maximum."


Photo: Witters