Saarbrucken The German Cup Semi-Finalists Without A Game In 94 Days

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Saarbrucken The German Cup Semi-Finalists Without A Game In 94 Days

Fourth-tier Saarbrucken’s run to the German Cup semi-finals has contained several epic moments – but now they face a challenge that only a global pandemic could bring.

The first team from outside the top three leagues to reach this stage host Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday. It will be their first game in 94 days.

Unlike the Bundesliga, which restarted on 16 May, the Regionalliga Sudwest has been ended prematurely with Saarbrucken, who were six points clear at the top, named as champions and promoted to 3 Liga.

Champions League chasers Leverkusen have had five Bundesliga games to warm up for the semi-final – including Saturday’s meeting with champions-elect Bayern Munich – while Saarbrucken have been in quarantine for the week leading up to the game and have not even been able to play a friendly.

Kianz Froese, who has assisted four of their seven DFB-Pokal goals this season – a “cool” record for a non-Bundesliga player – admits they will not know if they are match fit until kick-off.

“When we play the game we’ll be able to see it,” the Canada international told BBC Sport. “We will see during the game.

“We’ve only played against each other. Essentially 11 v 11 games in training.”

Saarbrucken’s run to the cup semis has been littered with extraordinary moments – two last-minute winners in 3-2 victories, both set up by Froese, followed by two penalty shootout wins.

“We’ve had four big celebrations,” Cuba-born Froese said. “Every cup win is something you don’t expect. A fourth division team beating second league teams, first league teams, twice. Every time you do it, it’s a new emotional whirlwind.

“The feelings after winning every game get more heightened. These are feelings you can only experience in sport. Moments like this, we will carry with us for our entire lives.”

They have beaten two Bundesliga and two second-tier teams in their four games. Unlike England’s FA Cup, where village teams start out in an early round, only teams in the top two flights automatically qualify for the German Cup.

Saarbrucken – who played in the first European Cup – had to win last season’s Saarland Cup to qualify. They had only played one German Cup game between 2013 and 2019.

Their cup run was close to ending all the way back in August. They trailed second division Jahn Regensburg 2-1 with 15 minutes to go before Manuel Zeitz’s equaliser and Gillian Jurcher’s injury-time winner.

They needed another last-minute winner in the second round as Tobias Janicke’s 90th-minute strike downed Bundesliga Cologne.

In the last 16 Karlsruher fell on penalties, with goalkeeper Daniel Batz saving one spot-kick after a 0-0 draw.

Fortuna Dusseldorf went the same way on penalties in the quarter-finals after a dramatic finale. Saarbrucken had looked set for a 1-0 victory before Mathias Jorgensen’s injury-time equaliser – set up by goalkeeper Florian Kastenmeier after he came up for a corner – took the game to extra time.

Saarbrucken were twice one spot-kick away from being eliminated but Batz became the first keeper to save four penalties in a German Cup shootout since Opta started recording those statistics.

https://www.bbc.com

He had also saved one during the game. Despite that he told BBC World Service: “You cannot practise penalties because every situation in a shootout is so special.”

Saarbrucken’s most recent game – a 1-0 defeat at Astoria Walldorf on 7 March – was three days after that famous win.

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Froese, who joined professional side Saarbrucken in the summer after leaving Dusseldorf, says several players may have had coronavirus around that time. “After the Dusseldorf game, quite a few of us got sick. It was before all the testing was more efficient.

“It could have been an ordinary flu, or it could have been the virus. Who knows? I was sick for two weeks and I wasn’t the only one.”

Saarbrucken The German Cup Semi-Finalists Without A Game In 94 Days

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