F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg pulled off a stunning coup with a 1-1 home draw in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round match against FK Vardar last week.
A mixture of smart tactics and some first-class organisation helped the amateurs of Dudelange fend off the challenge of the Macedonian champions to keep alive their hopes of making it through to the next stage of the competition. The man behind this proud achievement is Carlo Weiss, Dudelange's 43-year-old coach. uefa.com spoke to Weiss about his coaching methods and principles as he prepared his side for the second leg in Skopje.
uefa.com: How did you get started in football?
Carlo Weiss: "I started to play when I was ten in Neudorf and then went to play for [CA] Spora Luxembourg before I became a professional with [FC] Metz in France where I stayed for only three months. I was then attracted to Belgium and [KFC] Winterslag where Robert Waseige made me a defensive midfield player and then I went back to Luxembourg and [FC] Avenir Beggen where I started to play sweeper."
Do you think you were destined to become a coach?
CW: “I was never sure I'd be a coach before I got the offer from [FC] Sporting Mertzig to be a player-coach. It was difficult as I had to prove myself in both roles. I also did coaching courses with the Belgian Football Association but had to stop because it was too far from my home. But I learned a lot being player-coach."
What resources can you call on at Dudelange?
CW: "Dudelange represent the top tier of football in Luxembourg. But our stands are old and the pitch is not so good. I have an assistant coach, a goalkeeping coach and a physiotherapist who comes three times a week. I also have a good arrangement with some German sports doctors. We need to send our injured players to Kaiserlautern because in Luxembourg we lack most of the medical equipment needed to test the nature of injuries."
Did not playing your first Champion League game against Vardar at your home ground cause any problems?
CW: "For the European games we play in the national stadium because our stadium doesn’t meet UEFA's requirements. But our supporters don’t like to travel for games so we just had 1,200 spectators for the home game against Vardar."
How do you, as a coach, go about recruiting players for your team?
CW: ”I receive a budget from the club and decide which players I will go for. I have the confidence of the manager and it is better to work that way, when not too many people are involved. But I choose my own players without the help of agents.”
Did you have any information about Vardar before you played them?
CW: ”We had a tape from [F.Y.R] Macedonia which is how we prepared for the first match. If we are clever and well organised we might get a good result over there. It was too bad that they scored 20 minutes before the end in Luxembourg. Of course, they were better than us, but we had better chances to score."
How do you prepare for European match compared to a domestic one?
CW: ”I play a 5-4-1 in European competitions but I like to play 4-4-2 in our championship. But we are the only ones to play like that. Other teams still play with a sweeper in Luxembourg. We are the only team to play with four defenders in a line and every Sunday we play against a wall of ten defenders!"
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