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Head coach Markus Kauczinski took time out after training on Sunday morning to look back on the events of yesterday in conversation with the Hamburg media. The St. Pauli boss had special words of praise for the application and tactical discipline shown by his team in the 1-0 win over Ingolstadt.

Kauczinski began with the positive news that his squad had come through the high-intensity contest unscathed apart from a few minor knocks. Jeremy Dudziak was the only absentee on Sunday. The midfielder has a stomach bug that will probably keep him out for another few days.

That the Boys in Brown held their slender lead to the end was largely down to their improved defensive showing, said Kauczinski: "We defended better as a team, kept the lines closer together and adapted well to Ingolstadt's style of play." Winter signing Justin Hoogma had also impressed in central defence, he continued. "He did well. He took some time to settle in but he's ready to assume responsibility now, as we saw. He demands the ball and is brave, which has been good for us."

There was a lot of relief in the dressing room after the final whistle, but Kauczinski remained relatively composed: "I didn't feel much of a load on my shoulders, so there wasn't a lot to take off, but I was happy for the lads. You could tell one or two were feeling the pressure a bit – both before and during the game."

That explained in part why the Boys in Brown made a shaky start to the game and only gradually found their rhythm. "We could have demanded the ball more in the first half, some of the lads weren't in it at that stage," said Kauczinski. "The start to the second half was really good, though, and that allowed us to play with more freedom." The 49-year-old also noted an improvement in his team's grit: "We held our own better. The lads have really stepped up a gear in this respect. That includes those little fouls you sometimes have to make to interrupt the play. We were vigilant to the end and kept our concentration.

On the pitch, the team is a functioning unit, something Kauczinski put down to the chemistry in the squad: "We live off the fact that the lads get on well," he said. "That's the only way you can turn out a performance like the one yesterday, even when things aren't going so well in footballing terms."

The win over Ingolstadt took the Boys in Brown to 40 points and thus almost certain safety. "We have other targets to talk about than avoiding relegation, of course," said Kauczinski. "We're on course to achieve those targets and then we'll see what else is possible. The win did us good, there's a lot up for grabs and we can play with freedom," he said, summing up the positive situation the club finds itself in.


Photo: Witters