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LUHUKAY: "IT'S A QUESTION OF HOW EFFECTIVE WE ARE"

Three points are at stake again on Sunday when FC St. Pauli travel to one of last season's Bundesliga relegated sides, FC Nürnberg, looking to extend their five-game unbeaten run (kick-off: 1330 CET). At the Friday lunchtime news conference, head coach Jos Luhukay looked ahead to the game and spoke about...

...the personnel situation: "Christian Conteh has been ill all week and was absent again today, so he's definitely ruled out. That's another player we've been without this week, making 12 altogether. My wish is for the injury list to be a bit shorter going into the next home game against Darmstadt after the international break. The squad for Nürnberg will change compared with last week in that Rico Benatelli and Cenk Sahin will come in for Christian Conteh and Kevin Lankford. Rico had a good game for the Under-23s last week and Cenk has found his way back into the squad with some positive performances in training."

...his expectations for Sunday's game: "It's going to be a very interesting game because we've impressed every time we've played away this season. We just haven't been rewarded for our efforts. We're always capable of creating chances away from home. It's then a question of how effective we are, which is what I've been telling the team in the last few days."

...the opposition: "Nürnberg have a lot of players who played in the Bundesliga last season. They have plenty of quality in the squad and a strong central spine from the back to the front. On the flanks they have quick players who are a big threat on the counter. They played very well to win at Hannover on Monday. If they can score four in a clash of two teams relegated from the Bundesliga last season, then Sunday's game is going to be a huge challenge for us. Nürnberg were among the big favourites going into the season but they had a difficult start. Like us, however, they're now undefeated in five."

...tactical changes: "We've studied Nürnberg very closely over the last few days. They adopted a different formation at Hannover on Monday. We won't be changing our approach, however. We have a plan and we aim to put it into practice on Sunday. That's something we've done well in our previous away games, with the exception of Osnabrück, where we weren't at our best. Otherwise we've been playing attractive attacking football on our travels. We've had a lot of chances and the opportunity to take more points than we did. We have another chance on Sunday."

...that elusive first away win: "We've been very close this season. At Bielefeld and Dresden, we conceded the equaliser just before the end. We couldn't have been any closer to the first away win since I joined the club. If it's tight again on Sunday, I hope the luck will be on our side this time."

...the threat from set pieces: "We talked about that this morning and will do so again tomorrow. Their set pieces are of a very high standard. Johannes Geis is one of the best set-piece specialists in the league for me. Fifty per cent of their free-kicks and corners result in a goalscoring opportunity. His central free-kicks are also very dangerous. Nürnberg have a very good taker of set pieces in Geis but they also have four or five really good headers of a ball."

...possible changes to counter this threat: "We've been at an aerial disadvantage all season and still haven't suffered too much from opposition set pieces. We hope it'll stay that way on Sunday. We won't be able to compensate for this disadvantage with height. We have to protect ourselves by making sure we don't give our opponents any free headers. Bielefeld was the only place we conceded from a corner. Other than that, I can't remember any set pieces where our lack of height has made itself felt. Leo Østigård isn't the tallest of players but he's probably the best defensive header of a ball we have. He has a great spring and dynamism, which makes up for his lack of height. Daniel Buballa is often underestimated. Buba isn't six foot two either, but he defends himself and makes good use of his body, which is why we always put him on one of the opposition's best headers."

 

Photos: Witters

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