Dawda Bah's FC Augsburg Coach Mark Weinzierl is still hopeful that his struggling Bavarian side will avoid relegation to the second tier of German football.
Speaking with German regional daily newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine, ahead of the resumption of the Bundesliga, Wiinzierl expressed optimism that his side will avoid the drop.
The team that are ranked second from bottom on the 18-team table at the halfway point have now returned home from Turkey where they have been preparing for the task in hand in the past few days. The team is now on the home stretch of their training camp in Belek.
The training camp in neighbouring Turkey has renewed the hopes of Weinzierl and he is optimistic about the resumption of the league after the winter break. "That was great. We had perfect conditions. Players have pulled 100 percent. It was important that we have all survived without any major injuries," the coach said.
Exclusion instead of fine
In recent days, the coach has taken tougher disciplinary measures against his players by giving them suspensions instead of the usual fine handed for players found guilty of disciplinary offences. Mohamed Amsif, Knowledge Musona and Gambian Dawda Bah were all forced to train alone for sometime after they arrived late for training.
But speaking on the issue, Weinzierl does not want it to be understood as a fundamental change in its leadership team. "Errors are now only punished differently. During the first round, there were fines. Lateness cannot be accepted. We have a clear policy and to which everyone has to keep to."
Goalkeeper Amsif was the first fall victim of the new rules on penalties. Therefore, it must be feared not to be discriminated against in the battle for the starting spot. Although Amsif's behaviour hurts a little, the coach added that he still has the same confidence on him as Simon Jentzsch or Alexander Manninger. But he wouldn't be drawn into the debate as to who will start in goal when the season resumes at the weekend.
What is clear is that the game has a special meaning in Dusseldorf. In the first round after the unexpected defeat against Fortuna, it was a start to a downward trend for the team and now they have to do the opposite if they hope to avoid relegation.
"All our thoughts are on Dusseldorf and we are preparing for them. The tension and the pressure is high but it is positive. We want a good start to the second half and will do everything for it," the coach of the Augsburger added.
At the moment, the relation/promotion playoffs looks more likely for Augsburg with 16-team placed Hoffenheim just three points ahead of them and if they are to finish above the relegation zone all together, they have to make off for the 10 points that currently separates them with 15th place Wolfsburg.
But Weinzierl is still hopeful that they can make up ground on their opponents. "It can happen in football, sometimes quickly. We have to be there when maybe one or the other of our competitors slips up," the 38-year-old said.