Schalke 04's DFB-Pokal final opponents Duisburg face an injury crisis ahead of Saturday's clash at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, their coach said today.
"We are in a very difficult situation, this requires absolute calm and total concentration," said the second division team's coach Milan Sasic. "I do not know myself who will be ready to play on Saturday, but we will muster up 11 players."
Schalke are bidding to win the cup for the fourth time and the UEFA Champions League semi-finalists, who finished 14th in the Bundesliga, travel to Berlin with a full squad. In contrast, Duisburg's Sasic has considerable problems as the core of his team are either injured or carrying knocks.
Definitely out will be captain and striker Srdjan Baljak, plus defender Julian Koch, as both have cruciate knee ligament injuries. Austrian midfielder Jurgen Saeumel is also out with a hamstring injury and imposing Brazil defender Bruno Soares is suspended.
In addition, veteran midfielder Ivica Grlic has a muscle strain and defender Benjamin Kern has strained knee ligaments. To make matters worse, Croatia midfielder Ivica Banovic also complained of discomfort in training yesterday.
But there is some good news for Duisburg, who are bidding for their first DFB-Pokal win at the fourth time of asking. Austrian striker Stefan Maierhofer says he is over the broken metatarsal bone in his foot and showed plenty of fighting spirit. "The doctor has given me the green light," the striker tweeted on yesterday. "In Berlin, I'd play on my hands if I had to."
Sasic says he will only know who will play when he carries out a final fitness test on Saturday in Berlin. "Our medical department is doing an outstanding job and have tried everything for us to get fit in time," said Grlic.
Regardless of the result in Berlin, Duisburg will celebrate with their fans on Sunday and will take part in a motorcade. "At the end of the day, it is important that the supporters are happy," said Sasic. "I tell my team every day that is what we are working hard for."