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Olympic qualification: Croatia: Handball players puzzle over the Sigurdsson effect

Olympic qualification: Croatia: Handball players puzzle over the Sigurdsson effect

More atmosphere, less bratwurst. This is what national handball coach Gislason is demanding before the duel with Croatia. The DHB team is looking forward to seeing you again.

There were question marks floating over the heads of the German handball players. National coach Alfred Gislason and his protégés secretly mingled with the spectators and studied Croatia’s first appearance under head coach Dagur Sigurdsson up close. The regeneration after the easy 41:29 opening victory in the Olympic qualification over Algeria could wait. The curiosity was too great.

Even though the DHB selection played against Croatia at the home European Championships in January and lost significantly, the team is expecting a surprise package in the second group game. “It’s going to be exciting. He’s known for coming up with some unorthodox things,” said left winger Rune Dahmke with a mixture of anticipation and uncertainty. Nobody really knows what Sigurdsson plans to do with the Balkan team.

“He knows us all very well”

The reunion with the former German national coach on Saturday (2.30 p.m./ZDF and Dyn) promises to be explosive. In 2016, Sigurdsson became European champion with the DHB selection and won the bronze medal at the Olympic Games. After a seven-year stint with Japan’s national team, he is now taking on a new challenge in Croatia. The 50-year-old only had five training sessions with his new team before the tournament. What can the Icelander achieve in such a short time?

“A change of coach can of course be a boost. We know that from football,” said DHB captain Johannes Golla and puzzled with his colleagues about the extent of the Sigurdsson effect. For Germany, Croatia is a miracle bag, for Sigurdsson the old friend is an open book. “He knows us all very well and I know that he watched a lot of the Bundesliga during his time in Japan,” reported Dahmke and speculated: “I think that Dagur will give the Croatians another boost. They will be strong.”

Harmless offense, holey defense

The anticipation before the special game was clearly noticeable among the DHB professionals. Only Gislason, whose contract is only extended until 2027 if he takes part in the Olympics, remained cool as usual. “He won’t be able to turn the team upside down in that time. And it’s nothing special to play against an Icelander on the other bench. We’ve known each other for decades,” said Gislason about his relationship with Sigurdsson.

One thing is clear: Germany needs an increase in performance. The 41:29 win against handball dwarf Algeria was confident in the end, but it also revealed major weaknesses. A lack of effectiveness in scoring, uncertainties in the build-up game and coordination problems in the back rows characterized the German game at times. Or as ten-goal man Renars Uscins described it: “We missed a lot, got too hectic and our defense was sometimes too full of holes. We need more.”

With bratwurst on the side

Gislason demands more not only from some players, but also from the spectators in the Hanover handball hall. When asked about the atmosphere in the game against Algeria, the 64-year-old said: “The atmosphere could be significantly better. We urgently need that. Fifteen minutes before the end I thought everyone was at the side with bratwurst.”

With a win, the fourth place in the European Championship would almost certainly have a ticket to the Olympics. Ultimately, second place in the group of four is enough to make participation in the Summer Games in France perfect. Then Austria awaits at the end of the qualifying tournament on Sunday. Germany also still has a score to settle with its neighboring country. At the European Championships, the outsider wrested a draw from the DHB team.

Source: Stern

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