News : Handball: Germany qualifies for Olympic sport
On the grandstand of the Max-Schmeling-Halle, the officials, supervisors and employees of the German Handball Federation (DHB) clapped each other before the last game of the men’s selection was over at the Olympic qualification tournament in Berlin. It was more of a business pleasure, the game against Algeria hadn’t been particularly nice and certainly not dramatic. But that was not the point on this Sunday, but rather: to participate in the Summer Games from July 23rd to August 8th in Tokyo. And the DHB selection secured it with a never endangered, but also unadorned 34:26 (17:14) against the third of the most recent Africa championship.
A draw would have been enough for the German handball players according to the previous results, the 25:25 against the World Cup second Sweden on Friday and the 36:27 against the EURO fourth Slovenia on Saturday. But national coach Alfred Gislason had demanded a victory in order to keep the concentration high: “We really need the two points.” After the job had been completed, he admitted to his selection that it was no longer capable of a very great performance: “It was the third game in three days, and you noticed that there was a lack of liveliness and that one or the other was tired was. ” Fortunately, the Algerians were even more tired.
So now the mission “Olympic Gold in Tokyo” proclaimed eight years ago by DHB Vice President Bob Hanning can be continued, with which he rebuilt the troubled men’s team of the DHB. “We were pretty dragged by the cocoa when we stuck to this goal after the World Cup,” said President Andreas Michelmann with visible satisfaction. Twelfth place at the tournament in Egypt, the worst World Cup performance in DHB history, sowed doubts, even if it was “explainable the way the team was made up,” as Michelmann recalled. For various reasons, half a dozen regular players were missing in January, including the entire central defense.
“I didn’t sleep well,” admits Gislason after the Sweden game
She was there again in Berlin, and the selection promptly showed her potential. Sweden’s goalkeeper Andreas Palicka had already seen it on Friday: “In my eyes, Germany has every opportunity to be a world power in handball,” said the professional from the Rhein-Neckar Löwen after the 25:25, “they have a huge future in front of you. ” Maybe not in Tokyo this summer, Gislason dampened expectations. “We are definitely not one of the big favorites,” he said, “but you always have to reckon with Germany.”
Especially after such a performance as on Saturday against Slovenia, probably the best performance in a long time. “That was a really good defense with two really good goalkeepers who made it possible for us to play our speed game and score many easy goals, even in the second wave,” said Julius Kühn, summarizing the event. The striker from Melsungen scored six goals against Slovenia and eight against Algeria. “To get such a result against Slovenia, everything has to be right,” agreed Timo Kastening, “that was such a day today.”
After the draw against Sweden in the last attack, national coach Gislason had a restless night, as he admitted: “I didn’t sleep well.” After the win against Slovenia he was reassured because his team had the Olympic qualification firmly in hand again: “Large chunks of the burden fell from me. The pressure was great, but the team reacted superbly.”
With his experience, the Icelander turns exactly the right screws
The 61-year-old Icelander had also hired them well, praised DHB boss Michelmann: “Due to his experience, he is so slaughter-hardened that he can not be disturbed. That naturally radiates on the players.” With the authority of three Champions League triumphs as a club coach as well as eight national championships and eight cup wins, Gislason had always turned exactly the right screws, strictly according to the current form and regardless of previous earnings.
For example, he called on goalkeepers Jogi Bitter (Stuttgart) and Silvio Heinevetter (Melsungen) against Sweden, “because the majority of Swedes play in Germany and they know the players better”. In the opening match, Andreas Wolff, the 2016 European champion, stayed out. Wolff, who is under contract with the Polish top club Kielce, “knows the Slovenes better from the Champions League,” said Gislason, because their most dangerous throwers are all active in top European teams. Bitter then prevented the impending defeat on Friday with two saves in the final phase, and Wolff closed his goal on Saturday as the national coach had imagined.
He also replaced Patrick Wiencek, 31, in the defense center on Saturday with Johannes Golla, 23, because the veteran had looked tired the day before. “It wasn’t planned that he wouldn’t play against Slovenia at all,” said Gislason, “but the inside block worked well with Golla.” So he spared Wiencek, an equally profitable move like castling on left wing, where the hapless Uwe Gensheimer had to make way for Marcel Schiller in the meantime, and who was then the most successful thrower with five goals against Sweden and seven against Slovenia. Gislason moderated these personalities with his instinct so skillfully that Gensheimer did not have to feel degraded. “If you have to play every day, you can afford to switch between good outside,” said Gislason. In any case, the captain was back on board against Algeria – and successful again with five goals.