Sofian Chahed. Turbine Potsdam coach, on cup final, big gulf to VfL Wolfsburg and new league ideas
Mr. Chahed, before we talk about the Turbine Potsdam Women’s DFB Cup Final: As a former Hertha BSC player, were you relieved on Monday night after the relegation games against HSV?
It was very relieved. But if I am open and honest, I was one of the few who believed it. The 0-1 in the first leg was even better for Hertha as they had to be active in the second leg. Felix Magath knew it too.
Turbine Potsdam and Hertha BSC are known to be working together, which also includes financial support. Has the Bundesliga’s decline with significant economic effects also had an impact on Turbine Potsdam?
Nothing would happen in the short term, but definitely in the long term. So I am very glad that Hertha was teaching the class. On the one hand, cooperation is a financial aid, and on the other hand, it is also important in the structural area. We receive support in the field of video analysis, our employees sit in the Hertha office and we work together on social media.
Licensed clubs under the men’s umbrella are adding millions to be competitive, with the average income per Bundesliga women’s team being less than € 1.3 million, but spending almost twice as much. Does Turbine Potsdam have a future in its structures at all?
I think it’s nice that Turbine Potsdam is still Turbine Potsdam because there is a great tradition of women’s football behind it. Nevertheless, it will be extremely difficult for us in the coming years, because the economic aspect plays a very important role. Professional structures are needed to retain players. There are things we just can’t afford. So I can even understand players like Sara Agrez, who is now taking the next step as our VfL Wolfsburg captain, or Melissa Kössler, who is moving to TSG Hoffenheim. As a registered association, we can only spend what we earn – and our budget is correspondingly small. Licensing clubs sometimes have more than three times as many available.
Would it be desirable to join all of Hertha BSC, especially as Union Berlin will soon be playing in the Women’s Bundesliga and apparently Viktoria Berlin would also like to outsource her women’s department?
As a trainer, I also have my own thoughts. I am glad that I do not have to make this difficult decision – our Executive Committee is responsible for it. Of course, there is a risk of missing the boat if other Berlin clubs invest in women’s football. Not that we stay at the station and the train leaves – we definitely have to jump on it.
Turbine Potsdam has been shaping women’s soccer nationally and internationally for years, but the last title was the 2012 championship. It would be very appropriate to win the cup ten years later, wouldn’t it?
Surely. But Wolfsburg has won the cup seven times in a row and hasn’t been defeated in more than 50 cup games – that’s a pretty good joke ahead of us (laughs). The balance of power among women differs from that of men when the fourth-placed team plays against the first team in the Bundesliga. As champions, Wolfsburg is in a completely different league – looking back, we did our best by finishing fourth. Now we want to do our best in the cup final and I can promise you that we will not park the bus in front of our goal (laughs).
Are you really taking your cap off your colleague Tommy Stroot, who extended his contract until 2025 as he could win the double straight away and reach the Champions League semi-finals?
Final. For me, Wolfsburg does indeed have a slightly worse squad than Bayern, but they have player types that are there at key moments. Except for the set-up at FC Barcelona (1-5, ed), they’ve always done well – and Tommy Stroot played his part there.
Before the empty ranks there were two finals in Cologne. Before the crown pandemic, the DFB was happy with nearly 20,000 spectators. Wolfsburg goalkeeper Almuth Schult wants 25,000, or rather 30,000, fans to say goodbye. What would be a suitable background in your opinion?
To the person
Sofian Chahed, 39, has been the coach of the Bundesliga women’s club Turbine Potsdam since 2020. The former Bundesliga player from Hertha BSC and Hannover 96 previously worked in the Hertha youth division. Born in Berlin, he has played four times for the Tunisian national team. FR
I think 20,000, 25,000 would be nice, but the interest is not as high as it is among men. I know the DFB tries to sell tickets through all channels. In any case, two fan buses will come with us.
To increase the interest in the women’s Bundesliga, more matches with marked points will be held in the big arenas next season. You think it’s good?
no In a small, well-frequented stadium it is much more fun than playing in front of maybe 7,000 or 8,000 spectators at the Munich Arena. I think this is a wrong approach. I have played a lot of games for Hertha BSC in the half-empty Olympic Stadium; it was much more fun to play away from FC St. Pauli or Dynamem Dresden. It’s only when the stadium is full that the mood sets in. This might be the right way to play at home in the Champions League against FC Barcelona, but not in the Bundesliga.
You worked as a youth coach at Hertha BSC from 2016 to 2020 before you stepped into women’s soccer. Was it a very conscious decision?
Yes, I wasn’t able to take the next steps as a coach at Hertha at the time. When Turbine asked me to do this, I took it seriously and made a conscious decision to do so. The transition was not difficult. It’s soccer, the ball is round and the goal is the same: to score one goal more than the opponent, even if the requirements are different, for example in athletics.
In women’s soccer, only fractions of the amount are moved, as in the case of men. But it also makes a lot of things seem more down-to-earth. Do you also see this as an advantage?
Yes, women are not as reserved as some men. It’s just fun and it seems more sincere. Even so, I find it more difficult to train the women’s team than the men’s team. Many of our players still work part-time, study or earn extra money – I don’t work with full-time professionals like in Wolfsburg or Bayern.
Are you going to come back to men’s soccer any time soon?
I signed up for Potsdam for the next three years because I feel very comfortable here. It may go back at some point, but at the moment there are no specific plans for it.
Especially internationally, women’s soccer has grown enormously this season thanks to the new Champions League format, hasn’t it?
It’s really fun to watch matches of the highest level. I was impressed with the Champions League final between Olympique Lyon and FC Barcelona last week – we are seeing improvements in many areas of women’s football.
Would you advise to expand the Women’s Bundesliga soon?
We must ensure that there is sufficient competition. There is still a lot of work to be done in the lower part of the women’s Bundesliga, technically and tactically. And when the gulf gets too big, it doesn’t help anyone. I do not want to offend Carl-Zeiss Jen, but unfortunately they fell without a problem (last with five points and goals 9:88, editor’s note). First we need to close the gap between the best clubs and the rest, and then we can think about enlarging the league.
Interview: Frank Hellman