Huddersfield Town v Newcastle United: Spirit is big factor in our success, says Elias Kachunga

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IT is in the German footballing psyche not to get too excited until the prizes are handed out.

Think of the exploits of Germany’s national team and you will get the drift.

Huddersfield Town's Elias Kachunga (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

Huddersfield Town's Elias Kachunga (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

Players – and most definitely supporters – see qualification for the World Cup and European Championships as something to be taken for granted. As, in many respects, is progression to the knockout phases at the sharp end of tournaments.

For Huddersfield Town, their business end of their season is in full view. Bouquets, collectively and individually, may have been prolifically hurled in the direction of head coach David Wagner and his players, but the true garlands only arrive in May.

That mindset is succinctly summed up in the sentiments of one of the leading lights of their rise to prominence, Elias Kachunga.

That the striker has taken to Championship life so seamlessly in his first year in English football is worthy of considerable praise.

Eleven goals have arrived, with his attributes of stamina, pace, work ethic, attitude and striking ability supplying him with the perfect tool kit in order to be a success at this level of the game, one of the most ferociously competitive in world football.

Understandably, Kachunga, who joined Town from FC Ingolstadt 04 on a season-long loan last summer, is entitled to be pleased with his season so far and that of his club. With the crucial two words being ‘so far.’

The 24-year-old, likely to be restored to Town’s starting line-up for this evening’s ‘six-pointer’ with Newcastle United, is only concerning himself with the immediate future.

He and his Town team-mates have won many friends and admirers for their surprise promotion pitch in 2016-17, but the forward will only derive full pleasure when the job is done. It is the mindset of a winner.

As to whether it is one of his most rewarding seasons in football, he adds a caveat.

Kachunga, who had spells at boyhood club Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfL Osnabrück, Hertha BSC and SC Paderborn 07 prior to joining Ingolstadt, said: “I think this is one of my best seasons, but we are not here to the end of the season.

“We still have some games to play that I can help the team with some more goals.

“I go into every game hoping I can help the team with my good work rate and when I score some goals, it is good for me and the team.

“I am enjoying my time at Huddersfield. The team has been so good this season and I have played a lot of games and I am happy.

“But we have some more big games and we want to win them, so that at the end of the season we have something to celebrate.”

Kachunga has previous experience of helping an unfancied side defy the odds to reach the big time after helping Paderborn into the Bundesliga in 2013-14 and his hopes of a reprise with Town are certainly no flight of fancy.

Leading sides and competitors in the shape of the likes of Brighton, Leeds United and Reading have been toppled, with Town’s record against their rivals in the top six being one of the best in the Championship.

Perhaps the result that made many sit up and first take notice of Wagner’s class of 2016-17 came against today’s opponents at St James’ Park on August 13 when Town triumphed 2-1 in front of 52,000 mostly stunned spectators to claim their first league victory on Tyneside since October 1953.

Kachunga acknowledges that Newcastle will represent a wholly different proposition tonight to the side who lined up in early season.

But so will Town, whose recent home victory over a previous leader in Brighton is likely to imbue them with quiet confidence ahead of tonight’s acid test.

Kachunga added: “This is a different game to the one at the start of the season. Newcastle have found something, but we will be prepared for this game. I think the manager has given us the right tactic to play against this team.

“We play with high pressure and stay on the front foot and with the big crowds behind us at home, this gives us more power to play against this team to help us.

“Playing big games against a team like Newcastle is fantastic. It is great to play against these teams.

“Brighton came here and were also top of the table and we played a good game, so this is nothing different. We go into this game to give 100 per cent as well.”

On the similarities with Paderborn, he added: “Paderborn was also a small club and we did something very big there and got into the Bundesliga.

“Here, we are not the biggest in the Championship, but we work so good together, the whole team and staff and it is also helps with the supporters.

“This is so big for us and because of this, we can beat the big teams.”

While Kachunga is looking to the immediate future, the longer term has yet to be addressed, with Huddersfield having an option to purchase the forward on a permanent basis in the summer.

For his part, the former Germany Under-21 international is refusing to get side-tracked, with his sole focus being on doing his bit to turn a fine season into a truly exceptional one.

He added: “I play a good season, but this season is not over and I concentrate on this season and, after this, we sit together and look at what is the best for me.

“I came here to see something different and have a new experience and enjoy the moment at Huddersfield. I hope it continues like this.”