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Handball World Cup: The journey continues: DHB team is looking forward to the hot phase

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Now comes the heavyweights. For the German handball players it is the end of the World Cup main round against Norway. After that, either France or Spain are waiting in the quarter-finals.

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Despite all the feelings of happiness, Alfred Gislason did not allow himself to be carried away to a World Cup prognosis for the German handball players.

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Juri Knorr, on the other hand, dared to timidly step out of cover after the acclaimed entry into the quarter-finals. “We’re not at the end of our journey. If we continue like this, I think we can go a little further. But we have to stay true to ourselves,” said the thinker and leader of the German game, which has been so successful so far, before the sportingly meaningless conclusion of the Main round against Norway this Monday (8.30 p.m. / ARD) in Katowice.

France or Spain are waiting in the quarter-finals

The national coach remained true to himself even in the moment of the celebrated success. He felt “relief and joy”, said Gislason after the sovereign 33:26 against the Netherlands. However, he cleverly avoided the question of where the path of the DHB selection could still lead to in the finals in Poland and Sweden. “I still don’t know who we’re going to play in the quarter-finals,” said the 63-year-old Icelander.

It will only be decided on Monday evening whether the DHB team will meet Olympic champions and record world champions France or Spain, who came second in the European Championships, in the first knockout game next Wednesday in Gdansk. He “doesn’t care at all” who it will be in the end, said Gislason. After all, both teams are absolute handball heavyweights.

Sport director Axel Kromer didn’t want to curb the jubilation, but warned: “We have to recognize that reaching the quarterfinals, which we are proud of, will not go down in the history books,” said the 46-year-old on Sunday. “So far we’ve had a great World Cup with confident appearances in the games, but we haven’t gone into them as outsiders either. It also has to be said that we’ve never beaten a team that was considered a medal candidate.”

The DHB selection inspires the fans

But it can already be stated: The German team has reported back to the extended world class at the tournament and has regained a lot of sympathy that has been lost in recent years. The duel with the Norwegians for their superstar Sander Sagosen from the German record champions THW Kiel is now a first indicator of whether they can play successfully again in the concert of the big ones.

“They are the strongest opponents in the tournament so far. We can certainly learn a lot from the game,” said Gislason. But the key is to find the right balance. “Of course we’ll approach the game the same way we’ve played every game so far and we want to win it. But of course we’ll still try to spread the power,” announced the national coach.

The motto of his protégés for the upcoming tasks is: respect yes, fear no. “We can beat anyone on a good day, but we have to make sure that we keep the euphoria and continue to perform,” said captain Johannes Golla. Reaching the quarterfinals is a “milestone”.

With their refreshing appearances at the World Cup, the young and inexperienced team triggered great euphoria among the fans. More than six million spectators kept their fingers crossed in front of the TV sets during the game against the Netherlands, and around 4,000 German supporters among the 6,250 visitors in Katowice’s Spodek Arena ensured a home-game atmosphere. “The spectators gave us fantastic support from the first to the last minute and made the difference,” said the outstanding goalkeeper Andreas Wolff. “It’s incredible support that we’re experiencing here.”

Knorr best thrower against the Netherlands

The DHB selection is also building on this in the coming games. “It’s a lot of fun in front of these spectators. This atmosphere pushes us forward,” said backcourt player Julian Köster. And Knorr added: “We benefit from the euphoria and energy in the hall.”

The 22-year-old was the top scorer against the Oranje team with nine goals. Knorr is confident about the hot phase of the World Cup. “We know that we’re outsiders against Norway and no matter what opponent in the quarter-finals. But we have a certain spirit and a chance,” emphasized the director of Bundesliga club Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

Wolff, who sensationally became European champion in 2016 with the DHB selection in Poland, is also looking forward to the upcoming duels with absolute world-class teams. “You go to a world championship for that,” said the 31-year-old, making a small declaration of war on the competition: “We’re among the top eight teams in the world. That’s a great success. I hope we can keep our flow and the journey is not yet over.”

Source: Stern

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