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Two days before the visit of FC Köln (Sunday, 1330 CET), head coach Markus Kauczinski addressed the media at the obligatory pre-match press conference, where he spoke about the injury situation and the difficulty of the task facing his side.

"I'm really looking forward to it," began Kauczinski. The prospect of a full house, the quality of the opposition and the way his team have trained during the week have heightened his sense of anticipation. "It's going to be a festival of football and we aim to play our part," he said. "We aren't going to hide, we're going to impose ourselves on the game. Our task is to perform with passion and determination against what is probably the best team in the league."

Kauczinski continued: "One area where we really have to do better is our transitional play between midfield and attack. At Union Berlin we often didn't see the gaps, or we turned away with the ball. In previous games we did that better, and so we've discussed it at length during the week." One player who won't be able to help put that into practice is Sami Allagui, who is still feeling the effects of his collision with the goalkeeper in the cup game at Wiesbaden and is on a reduced training programme at the moment. Also ruled out is Ersin Zehir, who suffered a blow to the knee playing for the Under-23s during the week.

"As far as Christopher Avevor is concerned, we'll wait and see how he is today and tomorrow morning and then decide whether he's fit enough," said Kauczinski. "A lot will depend on whether Jackson can play, of course, which is why we've tested three different formations in training."

Whatever the outcome of that decision, one thing is certain, according to Kauczinski. "We're no pushovers ourselves. Köln will have to get the better of us first. Games like these are often decided by a single moment. We're totally focused and concentrated. Anything is possible in 90 minutes."


Photo: Witters