Ingolstadt/Berlin – The away fans were loudly signing “opening win, opening win” minutes after the final whistle of yesterday’s game. The Hertha players deserved all the applause they got from the travelling support after a concentrated and professional performance against VfB Eichstätt. “We took the game seriously, just as I wanted to,” summed up Ante Covic after the 5-1 win against the fourth-division side (11/8/19). Although a win against the amateur side from Bavaria was expected, the way in which his side performed was extremely positive ahead of the new Bundesliga season.
The coach was more than happy with the start to the 2019/20 season, as well as his personal debut in charge. Vladimir Darida (11’) and Vedad Ibisevic (12’) settled any early nerves, before the skipper added a third to send Hertha on their way to victory after 31 minutes. “As a team, some things we did really worked, others less so, but that’s normal for the first game of the season. For me as a striker, scoring goals is always good, no matter who it’s against,” commented the captain. “We scored some lovely goals,” praised Covic, whose side created an overload in midfield expertly throughout the cup tie.
The right reaction
Not everything went to plan just six weeks after the start of pre-season though. After the referee ruled out Marko Grujic’s goal for handball (49’), last season’s runners-up in the Regionalliga Bayern pulled one back through Kügel in the 52nd minute. “Not everything was perfect, but you wouldn’t expect it to be just yet,” added Covic. “As long as there are more good situations than bad, I’m happy. The team didn’t hide after conceding either; we dealt with the moment well and continued to play good football, which is important to me.”
Ondrej Duda hit the crossbar just four minutes after Hertha conceded, before Salomon Kalou restored the three-goal lead after some nice play from Alexander Esswein (62’). The winger then added the fifth and final goal of the afternoon himself (75’). “It’s never easy to play in the first round against teams that have already started their league campaigns. I think we got the job done well and played well too. I’m really pleased about my goal,” said Hertha’s number 9.
The stumbling block that can be the first round of the DFB-Pokal proved to be dangerous once again for some big sides this year, although Hertha once again came through unscathed. “Everybody has seen how difficult it has been for some Bundesliga clubs again this year, who either struggled or are already out. We wanted to avoid that at all costs. There are still a few things we need to work on, but a lot of good things we can build on,” said Ibisevic, who has now scored 20 cup goals in his career. The Bosnian also received some strong praise from his new coach: “Vedo has had a strong pre-season and showed today how dangerous he can be in the box. It’s good for me to know that we have another dangerous striker in Davie Selke too.”
The club from the capital has now reached the second round of the cup in each of the last six seasons. The draw for the next round will be made on Sunday (18/8/19, 18:00 CEST). Hertha’s Bundesliga opener comes again the defending champions FC Bayern on Friday, 16 August (20:30 CEST). Covic is well aware of how different the game will be against the Bavarians. “We did our job today and can enjoy the win, but we are expecting a different kind of match there,” reflected the coach on his first game as a Bundesliga coach. The fans would love to have something to celebrate again next week in Munich too.