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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Talking Points: Essen punching below their weight

Essen’s young talents not enough to overcome Cologne, Bayern Munich struggle for erstwhile grasp at top of the table. Meanwhile, a Cameroonian is the pride of the Russian top flight.

Essen looking to hold onto young talents 

Had SGS Essen managed to hold on to Lea Schüller, Marina Hegering, Lena Oberdorf and Sara Doorsoun they would have still had almost half the German national team in their starting lineup. Now they are hoping to hold onto the young talents they still have, but their last match before the winter break wouldn’t have helped, with Essen languishing in ninth out of 12 places on the table. 

“We have mixed feelings about the season,” defender Nina Räcke told DW. “We are happy to have pulled away from the bottom, the cushion feels good. But if you look at our games, you know that we often don’t play up to our potential.”   Essen’s talent was often on display in their 2-1 defeat in Cologne, where the visitors looked technically strong on the attack. However, contrary to their postgame comments, they were not the better team overall. Their offensive moves were awkward and lacking penetration – as opposed to Cologne, who were clinical on the attack. 

Meanwhile, Cologne’s captain Peggy Kuznik was honored for her 300th Bundesliga game.  

The Essen way of doing things

Women players in Essen go about their work in a professional way, but they aren’t professionals in the sense that they don’t have the luxury of devoting their entire lives to football – if they are not students, they have jobs to help pay the bills. “Sometimes you wonder, ‘What would it be like to be a full professional, what would that mean in terms of your sport?'” she asked. “But the way things are now, we are also getting a lot out of it.”  

And there is a new crop of youngsters raising eyebrows at Essen, be it 18-year-old striker Carlotta Wamser, midfielder Beke Sterner, also 18, 21-year-old goalkeeper Stina Johannes or Fee Kockmann, who is just 17.

SGS Essen are hoping to hold on to young talents long enough for them to flourish

“Essen too is getting more and more professional. We now have our own pitch, we’re getting a new functional building,” said Räcke, who is also only 20. “I have hope that the team will stay together for a long time this time.”

She is bound to get her wish – at least until the end of the season.

Bayern grasp top place

Maxi Rall andSaki Kumagai found the back of the net as Bayern Munich struggled to a 2-0 win over Werder Bremen at the end of a first half of the season that saw them labor under the strain of being involved in three competitions. Werder defended valiantly, but simply did not have the means to trouble Bayern’s defense. Bayern’s women did what they needed to do to get the win – nothing more. The win put Bayern top of the table – at least until Wolfsburg’s match against Turbine Potsdam is played – it had to be postponed due to several positive tests for COVID-19 at Potsdam

Maximiliane Rall and Linda Dallmann celebrate Bayern Munich’s first goal

Cameroon’s pride of Russian league  

Last week, the FifPro players’ trade union announced the nominees for its World 11 of the Year. Alongside a great many expected celebrities from the top English, French and Spanish leagues, as well as the United States, was a surprising figure: Cameroon’s Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene of CSKA Moscow. The CSKA Moscow women finished runners-up in Russia – where the season closes in October due to the harsh winter – which must be a disappointment after having won back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020. 

Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene (right) has been named to FifPro’s top 11 of the year

The Russian Supreme Division is not exactly a footballing Mecca. Only 10 teams play in the competition, which has been held since 1992, and they are not rolling in cash by any means. The Russian women have usually been eliminated at the group stage of European championships and they haven’t qualified for World Cups in two decades. Still, Onguene made her way to Alpha Kaliningrad in 2012 before ending up at CSKA via Rossiyanka in 2017.  

The attacker, who is only 1.52 meters (4′ 10″) tall, has been described by the club as a “living legend.” With 36 goals in 98 games, she is the team’s top scorer of all time. Onguene, has said she wants to continue playing with players who just wrote “the most beautiful pages in CSKA’s history book.” Among her ambitions is winning the Champions League, and the 32-year-old has another season to attain this goal, as she recently extended her contract through the end of the 2022 season. 


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