1.FC Saabrucken makes history

“When you get into a football ground, you never know what will happen. A totally unknown player could be the star. That’s the excitement”. These words, said a long time ago by legendary German national coach Helmut Schon, match completely with Daniel Batz’ story. The 29-year-old goalkeeper from Bavaria became a well-known figure worldwide in a few minutes, after he had an exceptional match with 1. FC Saabrucken vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf in German DBF Pokal quarterfinals.

1.FC Saabrucken, which plays in Regionalliga, became the first team from fourth division to reach the DBF Pokal semifinals after a thrilling win on penalties (7-6). Daniel Batz was the hosts hero, as he made no less than five (!) saves, one in regular time and four in penalty shootout. His performance was enough to sign a sindarella-like qualification, taking a minnow club into the middle of the German football stage.

The club’s way to semifinals started last August, when they saw off 2. Bundesliga competitors Jahn Regensburg with a 3-2 score. 1. FC Saarbrucken were good enough to take advantage of a red card to their opponent in last quarter to come from behind and score a late qualification goal. Then came Bundesliga cub 1.FC Koln, and the scenario was almost the same:  A late goal which sealed a 3-2 win. Saarbrucken had a 2-0 lead in the first 70 minutes, but they suffered conceding two goals in 14 minutes, before Tobias Janicke sent them through the 16th finals.

Penalties were next. They were drawn to face 2.Bundesliga club Karslruher SC and they succeeded to get a 0-0 draw in regular and extra time,  although their opponent had an impressive total of 26 shots during the match. They had a 5-3 win on penalties, with Batz saving only once.

The club based in Saarland, at Germany’s western border with France, didn’t need this to differ from all other German clubs. They’re currently the only one playing in first four tiers of German football who had played in three different countries leagues! As the state of Saarland was occupied by France after World War II, the club was offered the choice of joining either a local puppet league or join the French 2nd division (they were renamed Sarrebruck then).

They’ve chosen the second and they were strong enough to win the 2nd division, but were refused promotion or further participation, mainly due to the resistance of other clubs. So, they were forced to join the local Ehrenliga, as Saarlad was made a French protectorate and even sent a separate national team to 1954 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

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