Bernd Schröder says 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam can punch their weight in the UEFA Women's Cup final.
By Andreas Alf
As he looks ahead to 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam's forthcoming two-legged UEFA Women's Cup final showdown with Djurgården/Alvsjö, coach Bernd Schröder can be excused for occasionally pinching himself.
The 62-year-old never expected to have progressed so far in a major competition. "If someone had told me 30 years ago in the German Democratic Republic that we would be able to represent Germany as one of the country's best teams in a European competition, I would never have believed them," he told uefa.com.
Having worked at Potsdam as a coach or even as club president since the club's foundation, Schröder has played a major role in taking his side to the highest stage, but as the team head for Stockholm for the first leg of the final this weekend, he feels he bears a great responsibility.
"Our first leg will be broadcast throughout the Berlin area and 50 supporters will fly with us to Stockholm," he said. "So, we are well aware of our duty to pay them back with a great showing. I have told my team that it is a matter of honour to get a good result against the Swedish team."
Having drawn a blank in their last two Bundesliga matches, Schröder hopes his side can find their footing again on their travels. "Not having scored in two league matches in a row is very sad for a top European side," he said. "The question will be if my players can get back to their best in Stockholm."
With 1. FFC Frankfurt having seized the German title back, the UEFA Women's Cup and German Cup finals are now huge targets for the coach as he looks for "compensation". Schröder admitted that winning the 2003/04 Bundesliga brought Potsdam as much pressure as it did prestige.
"Our players were suddenly faced with many more commitments to the media and sponsors," he said. "It's hard to deal with that from one day to another. But in our sport you can only show consistent top performances if everything is perfect in the players' environment. We are still learning that."
While Potsdam have been growing up in public this season, the seasoned stars of Djurgården/Alvsjö will have no problems with pressure. Yet Schröder is hoping that his side of less illustrious players can overcome their Swedish rivals through will-power and work-rate.
"Our work must be spread across all of our shoulders," he said. "On the one hand, we have got lots of German internationals, but they are still not typical top players like Birgit Prinz and Renate Lingor at Frankfurt or Victoria Svensson and Kristin Bengtsson for our next opponents.
Focus on Hingst
"We hope that Ariane Hingst will lead the team with her experience and that Conny Pohlers and Anja Mittag will show their talent up front," he added. If that trio of German stars can shine, Djurgården/Alvsjö's return trip to Potsdam next week could be a very uncomfortable one indeed.