Monatsarchiv: Mai 2007

That’s all folks…or is it?

After matchday 35, FC Magdeburg only needed 4 points from the remaining three matches to secure promotion.
But as always, things didn’t quite work out as planned.
On matchday 36, Magdeburg only managed a 1-all draw with Leverkusen’s reserves. The equaliser came seconds before the game ended, and after Leverkusen had played with a man down for 70 minutes. Still Magdeburg now only needed 3 points from two remaining games.
So yesterday, they traveled all the way to Emden near the Dutch border, only to lose Manai to a second yellow card and the game as well. While conditions were certainly not exactly good, check out the pitch here, Magdeburg lost due to some terrible errors in defense, similar to the one that led to Leverkusen’s equaliser the week before. Kubis‘ two goals couldn’t help much, as Magdeburg suffered the first defeat after 12 matches. Emden won 4-2.
To go up, Magdeburg now have to win their last home game, against what is probably the best team around, FC St. Pauli. The team from Hamburg have already secured their promotion, but will nevertheless not give the game away, so that the match will be worthy of the sold-out stadium. mdr TV will broadcast the game live on next Saturday from 1345 CEST.

I’m still tryingto figure out how these two results can be explained and whether or not I should revise my last post.

Facts:
1. FC Magdeburg 1 – 1 Bayer Leverkusen Res.
20′ Fernandez RED
83′ Neumann 1-0
89′ Schultens 1-1
Attendance: 14,005

BSV Kickers Emden 4 – 2 1. FCM
53′ Zedi 1-0
59′ Manai, 2nd Yellow
64′ Kubis 1-1
66′ Cerci 2-1
73′ Tornieporth 3-1
81′ Kubis 3-2
88′ Celikovic 4-2
Attendance: 4,500

How to be a successful team

As it looks now, 1. FC Magdeburg can achieve promotion to the Germany’s 2. Bundesliga this year. This possibility opened up for two reasons: First, the other teams in the Regionalliga Nord were not as constant in their performances as should have been expected and second, 1. FC Magdeburg performed admirably well.
Now why is a team that has played 4th tier football and has remained unchanged, except for four new players from other clubs and a number of players from Magdeburg’s very own youth teams, be so successful?

One reason is certainly that there is an inherent calmness in the club, a feeling that manager Dirk Heyne greatly contributes to. An example: Christopher Kullmann, a 20-year-old forward has been injured during the winter break and after his injuries healed, he is not quite up to the old level. But he still gets his games regularly, even after some abysmal performances. A different manager might not have tolerated this – but Heyne did, and with success too: Kullmann eventually scored the important 2-1 lead in the match against Union Berlin.
The calmness can be shown by another example as well. In April 2006, Aleksandar Kotuljac was injured in a match against ZFC Meuselwitz. Up to then he had been in the form of his life, had delivered the best match when Magdeburg beat eventual runners-up Plauen 5-0 just 4 days earlier. The club allowed him to heal this injury thoroughly, even though it took almost 10 months until Kotuljac was able to play again. But when he stepped on the pitch in the match against Holstein Kiel, everyone felt that he was trying hard to be in the form of that Plauen match. And in the following matches, Kotuljac scored 9 goals and has his part in Magdeburg’s 11-match unbeaten run. Another reason is the team spirit the club radiates. Not only does everybody fight and run to make up for the other’s mistakes, but no-one carries grudges for being benched, the prime example here being another forward, Danny Kukulies. He joined the club from MSV Neuruppin prior to this season, but his performances weren’t up to scratch and so he was benched – but there was no moaning about it. And when he finally got a spot in the starting line-up against Union Berlin, he also scored.

What’s very important to the team is how quickly new players are integrated, something that is especially important in the case of Frank Gerster who had had disciplinary problems at both Sachsen Leipzig and Kickers Emden, his last two clubs. But in Magdeburg, Gerster was soon an accepted player, and is one of the team’s leaders. The other two team leader’s are an obvious choice: the team captain, Mario Kallnik who has been at the club since 2001 (one of the few players not to leave when Magdeburg went bankrupt in 2002) and Kais Manai – another new player.
But even these two are special. Kallnik wasn’t in the starting line-up for the first 18 matches of the season and only got 4 games as a substitute. Yet at no point there was any doubt that he was the right choice for the captaincy and his leadership was unchallenged. With the beginning of the second half of the season, Kallnik returned to the line-up and has since established himself in the first team, although his first performances were not so good.
The same goes for Kais Manai. Apparently he was plagued by injuries in 2006 and is only now showing his full potential, but what he has shown in the past few matches, beginning with the game against Düsseldorf has been a standard of controlling the game that has only rarely been seen in Magdeburg in the past years.

The final factor to the success of this slightly strengthened Oberliga champions of 2006 is the high club identification. As an example I’ll cite Mats Wejsfelt, the Swedish defender. He has played at Babelsberg, Helsingborgs IF, IFK Malmö, Trelleborg FF and joined Magdeburg in July from Sachsen Leipzig. In the clip below he is interviewed on the plans Magdeburg have for June 2nd, the day of the last league match. On that day, 1. FC Magdeburg will play St. Pauli and it looks like both teams will be promoted.

Translation:
Wejsfelt: On June 2nd, we must celebrate here together with St. Pauli.
Reporter: Together with St. Pauli?
Wejsfelt: Yes, that’s great, doesn’t get better.
Reporter: Not together with Dresden?
Wejsfelt: Nah. () Can’t say that as a Magdeburger.

So apparently, Wejsfelt has noticed the fierce rivalry between Dynamo and Magdeburg and understands the feelings of the fans.
This understanding has been demonstrated by Aleksandar Kotuljac who was recently asked which club he would not join. His answer: Dynamo Dresden, high treason is out of the question.

Regardless of the truthfulness of these statements, they show that the team is intact and the players are indeed glad to play here. This of course also endears them to their fans more than before, if that’s even possible.

Queuing

Today, I stood in line for two and a half hours, waiting to get tickets for the final match of the season, 1. FC Magdeburg vs. FC St. Pauli.
While I was waiting, I realised that compared to us, the English know next to nothing about queuing. There were no queue-jumpers out there today, and leaving one’s place for a bit was not a problem either. I probably could have gone off to a cafe without losing my spot.
I guess that there is no political or economical system that creates such a healthy queuing environment as communism (or what the Communist bloc took that to be). Resources are scarce and so queuing was normal.
My parents used to queue for bananas or oranges, and if that shopping centre hadn’t just the night before moved the washing machines next to the entrance my parents happened to be using, they would have had to queue up for that too.

Want some pictures?
Take a look – this is in front of the FC Magdeburg shop, at about 11:50 am (if you are blessed with good eyesight, you might be able to spot me). Queue in front of ticket shopAnd this is in front of another ticket shop. Yes, the ticket shop is that blue thing down the alley…
Another queue in front of a ticket shopUpdate: As of 2:30 this afternoon, all tickets have been sold. Apparently there is just one section not sold at all, where it is unclear as of now, if it’ll be used to seperate the fans or be sold at a later point in time. I’d estimate about 26,000 tickets sold at the moment.

18,366

That’s the number of paying spectators at yesterday’s Regionalliga Nord match 1. FC Magdeburg vs Union Berlin.
They saw one of the worst performances by the Magdeburg team, a catastrophic first half full of simple mistakes on both sides and a nil-all at halftime. This didn’t stop the atmosphere being one of the best yet in Magdeburg’s new stadium.
Apparently Dirk Heyne, Magdeburg’s manager, had told his team quite precisely what his opinion of their first half perfomance was, and so they came out of the break with renewed determination, with their first attack leading right to a corner kick.
Nothing came off it though, and then it was Berlin’s Nico Patschinski who crossed the ball into the penalty area from a freekick, where it found the head of Berlin’s 6’3 defender Daniel Schulz who had no problems at all with scoring.
In the next few minutes it did not at all look as if Magdeburg would be able to turn this result around, when Kais Manai fired a volley shot towards Union’s goal. Schulz‘ deflection made a save impossible and so Magdeburg equalised. Afterwards the hosts were frequently dangerous on counter-attacks through their fast forwards Kotuljac and Kullmann, and on one of those it was once again Daniel Schulz who could only stop Kotuljac with a foul – as he had already seen a yellow card, the ref had no choice but to send him off.
Now Magdeburg were the better team and the tide turned entirely in their favor. Only 6 minutes after the lead, Christopher Kullmann ended his dry spell with a wonderful header to make it 2-1 for Magdeburg.
With Union now attacking with a do or die mentality there was a lot of room for counter-attacks, but the fans had to wait until the 85th before Kukulies scored the third goal after a wonderful pass from Kotuljac.

The Facts:
1. FC Magdeburg 3 – 1 1. FC Union Berlin
50′ Daniel Schulz 0-1
63′ Manai 1-1
66′ Schulz 2nd Yellow
69′ Kullmann 2-1
85′ Kukulies 3-1

Att: 18,366