By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Kaiserslautern fire coaching team and bet on Dirk Schuster for promotion playoffs

Third division side 1. FC Kaiserslautern will head into the promotion-relegation playoffs with a new head-coach at the helm. 

On Tuesday, the Pfälzer-Verein confirmed the release of trainer Marco Antwerpen and his assistant Frank Döpper. 

Dirk Schuster, the gaffer who once led SV Darmstadt 98 to back-to-back promotions, is the man now charged with getting the Red Devils back into the second division. 
Following three consecutive losses to conclude the season, 1. FC Kaiserslautern sacked head-coach Marco Antwerpen on Tuesday ahead of the promotion-relegation playoffs. The Pfälzer Red Devils have the final 3. Bundesliga matchday off, courtesy of Türkgücü München's withdraw from the 3. Liga. With 1. FC Madgeburg and Eintracht Braunschweig already locked into the automatic promotion places, the FCK cannot be moved from third place.

One division higher, it is already confirmed that Dynamo Dresden will finish 16th placed in the 2. Bundesliga. It is such that the DFB and DFL have already set a date for the promotion-relegation playoff between the two divisions. Lautern and Dynamo will face one another in two playoff legs scheduled for May 20th and May 24th.

The once around Palatinate club (German Bundesliga Champions as recently as 1997) have been languishing in the third division since being relegated from the second in the 2017/18 campaign. It had long been clear that Antwerpen would be released after the poor finish to the season. There was even some talk over the weekend of German football legend Miroslav Klose (a Lautern legend) taking over.

Schuster was nevertheless confirmed as the new appointment. The 54-year-old was last active as a head-coach for Erzgebirge Aue. Schuster also briefly coached Augsburg training the Stuttgarter Kickers for a time. The former player for local rivals Karlsruher SC is most remembered for his successes during his first stint coaching SV Darmstadt 98.

Schuster led the Lillies from the third division to the first in just two seasons between 2014 and 2015. Home games on the FCK's famed Betzenberg hill continue to draw large crowds of 30,000 or more despite the fallen giant's current league status. Die rote Teufel will host the first playoff leg in front of, in all likelihood, a full capacity crowd of 49,850 at Fritz-Walter Stadion.

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