1. FC Union Berlin's women's team will play at the Stadion and den Alten Försterei for the first time this season this coming Sunday as they welcome FC Carl Zeiss Jena II in the Regionalliga Nordost. Kick-off is at 14:00. The gates for the main stand and Waldseite will open an hour earlier. Admission is free. Food and drink will be available, and the Zeughaus will also be open.
FC Carl Zeiss Jena II have only existed in this form for two years. Until 2020, FF USV Jena, who played in the Bundesliga from 2008 to as recently as 2018 (and one last time in the 2019/20 season) were the most successful women's club in Jena. However, due to financial problems, the club merged with FC Carl Zeiss Jena in 2020, who had only founded their women's football department in 2017.
By absorbing their playing licence, Carl Zeiss Jena II were able to start directly in the Regionalliga from 2020/21, where FF USV Jena II had most recently finished in 5th place. But as much as that has changed, veteran coach Christian Kucharz, who has been responsible for the U21 team in Jena since 2009, remains on the touchline. Initially, he was head coach of FF USV Jena II for eleven years, and as a result of the merger he has now been in charge of Carl Zeiss Jena II since 2020.
The Thuringians finished last season in 6th place in the Regionalliga Nordost, not far from where they find themselves now, in 7th, with four wins and one draw from the first nine games.
Jena's first team, who Union beat in a friendly in the summer, 4-0, are currently in 10th place in the 2. Bundesliga, only one point ahead of the relegation places. If the second-division team led by ex-Union head coach, Steffen Beck, were to be relegated, then it would have deeper consequences for Carl Zeiss Jena II. For they would then have to drop down to the Landesliga, as the first and second teams are not allowed to play in the same division.
The head to head
Due to the club's young history, Union have only played against them once before, a goalless draw at Dörpfeldstraße in March of this year.
However this changes when looking at their predecessor club FF USV Jena II, with whom they competed regularly in the Regionalliga. In 14 encounters, Union have won seven times, USV Jena II five, and there have been two draws.
They even faced each other once before at the Alte Försterei in May 2019 when, as part of the women's football day celebrations, Union ran out 5-0 winners in front of a crowd of 500 people.
The coach's views ahead of the game.
Head coach Ailien Poese expects an intense duel. "Jena are a young and ambitious team that play passionate football, but also always have good solutions when sitting deep. And as Jena's first team aren't playing, there could some squad changes. We took a lot from the experience in Magdeburg and showed an excellent reaction in training, so we are preparing for the game with concentration and great anticipation."
The only thing that dampens the euphoria at the moment is the personnel situation. She continued, "The illness and injury situation is giving us a hard time at the moment. With Luise Wildner, Lisa Heiseler, Latoya Bach and Sophie Trojahn, we have four players currently not in training due to illness. In addition, Zita Rurack will be out for a longer period of time due to an injury, and Marie Becker is also questionable. Celine Frank is still working back to fitness."
Nonetheless, the 38-year-old remains bullish, and is hoping for extra support from the stand.: "So dear Unioner, let's defy the odds together. Come to the stadium An der Alten Försterei in great numbers on Sunday to give us your support. We are looking forward to seeing you there."