Cologne's basement before the cup cracker: "But not in this game" - Bark Sedov
Cologne’s basement before the cup cracker: “But not in this game”

Cologne’s basement before the cup cracker: “But not in this game”

Cologne’s basement before the cup cracker: “But not in this game”

Cologne’s managing director Christian Keller faces tricky tasks – on Saturday in the DFB Cup with his ex-club and second division leaders Jahn Regensburg and on the transfer market, where there are no concrete prospects for the sales candidates Ellyes Skhiri, Ondrej Duda and Sebastian Andersson.

Will temporarily put aside his sympathies for Regensburg on Saturday: Christian Keller.

Will temporarily put aside his sympathies for Regensburg on Saturday: Christian Keller.
picture alliance / BEAUTIFUL SPORTS/Wonderful

Keller worked for den Jahn in Regensburg for more than eight years before he took up the job as sporting director at 1. FC Köln in April of this year. There is no question that the return to the old place of work on Saturday for the first round match in the DFB Cup will be a special emotional day.

Especially because the FC, with the current leaders of the 2nd division, was drawn to what is probably the most unpleasant task that was possible. “It’s probably one of the hardest draws you can get in the first round. A second division team that’s in a good mood now and has won the first two games,” said right-back Benno Schmitz on Wednesday.

So is Keller traveling to the Upper Palatinate with jitters because of the special sporting and personal constellation? “Of course I’m going to Regensburg with the firm intention of winning there,” replies the 43-year-old, who makes no secret of his connection with the second division team. “I wish Jahn a full stadium and all the best, but not in this game. I’m a Jahn fan, but not on Saturday, I’ll be there with FC.”

The task in Regensburg will be a special one in terms of sport. After all, Mersad Selimbegovic’s team, which is already in the rhythm of competition, cultivates a special style of play, relies a lot on long balls.

Grabbing Den Jahn with the pressing or counter-pressing favored by FC trainer Steffen Baumgart and winning a lot of balls in the opposing half is certainly more difficult to successfully implement against the game idea of ​​the second division team than against a team that relies on more delicate combination play.

We have a certain pressure to act

Nevertheless, there is an expectation that FC, who lost 3: 4 on penalties in the round of 16 under Markus Gisdol in Regensburg in 2021, will take this hurdle. After all, the clammy club needs income. Especially since transfer fees have not yet been achieved in the desired amount.

“Economically, apart from transfers, there is the chance of additional income, such as qualifying for the group stage of the Europa Conference League. In the overall context, we are on course, but we still have to do one or two things,” explains Keller. “We have a certain pressure to act.”

This should not be alleviated by the first sales candidates for financial and partly also for sporting reasons in the next few days. For the center forward Sebastian Andersson, who has slipped down the hierarchy and who, according to Keller, “has limited chances to play at the moment”, creative actor Ondrej Duda and the six Ellyes Skhiri, who is not easy to replace in terms of sport, there are no interested parties who want to sit down at the negotiating table with FC.

The Skhiri case surprises

In the case of 27-year-old Skhiri, this is surprising given that Stuttgart’s Orel Mangala (24) is on the verge of a move to Nottingham Forrest – for 13 million euros plus possible bonuses of four million and a resale share. Conditions for which the FC would probably agree to Skhiri immediately.

But Keller clearly classifies the situation surrounding the Tunisian international: “In terms of sport, we want him to stay with us. We told him that, but also that we have to talk if there is a concrete offer for him,” he says adds: “Currently this is not the case.”

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