Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: That’s the way we have to go
For the first time since his return to Gelsenkirchen in January, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar played the full 90 minutes and scored his first goal for the Royal Blues in almost four years. For the 37-year-old, it could have been a successful afternoon of football in Leverkusen if not for the scoreline, as Schalke were narrowly defeated 2-1 by the ‘Werkself’.
Huntelaar netted with nine minutes left to play in the BayArena with a point within reaching distance, but it wasn’t to be for S04. “Some former teammates and coaches got in touch to say how happy they were that I’m match fit again and that I was on the scoresheet again. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a result though,” reports the veteran striker, who praised his teammates’ performance despite the defeat in Leverkusen. “We put the opponents under more pressure and forced them into making some errors,” says Huntelaar. He also praised the way in which Schalke started the game compared to in previous weeks as well as the team’s more positive style of play.
More attacking play
This change in the Royal Blue’s style of play comes as a result of the approach of head coach Dimitrios Grammozis, who has demanded more attacking drive from his team. “The coach told us that we have to push forwards more as a team and have more self-confidence,” explains Huntelaar. “If we don’t have enough players contributing to the attack, it becomes too easy for our opponents.” This is something that the veteran striker understands well from experience, but he stresses that the team created good chances in Leverkusen and continued to improve: “That’s the way we have to go.”
My goal is to win as many games as possible. That goal continues with our next game against Augsburg.
In terms of his physical fitness, Huntelaar emphasises that he felt very comfortable being out on the pitch again with no problems with his calf. Despite the current circumstances in the table, the Dutchman remains fully motivated. “My goal is to win as many games as possible. That goal continues with our next game against Augsburg,” says Huntelaar, stressing that all the positives from the last game now have to be taken into the game against FCA.
Praise for the youngsters
Huntelaar was also full of praise for the way in which the club has made the development of youngsters a priority under Grammozis. With Timo Becker, Malick Thiaw, Mehmet Can Aydin, Kerim Calhanoglu and substitute Can Bozdogan, numerous youngsters from the academy were in action at the weekend. In addition to these players was Sead Kolasinac, who also came from S04’s youth teams. “We have a lot of young talent here, which is something that has always distinguished Schalke,” says the 37-year-old, attesting to the quality of his younger teammates. “They still have some areas to improve naturally, but that’s completely normal at this age. They have big futures ahead of them. What counts now is giving their all to improve their all-round game.”