Kolding (AP) – The German handball players are not giving up on the dream of the semi-finals. During one of the rare forays into the fresh air, the team of national coach Henk Groener wanted to lose all thoughts on the moderate preliminary round on Friday.
The DHB selection is calling for a restart to start the main round against Hungary on Saturday (4 p.m.). “I don’t think we have to hide from anyone in this main round when we bring our performance,” said DHB sports director Axel Kromer in Kolding, Denmark. He believes “we can win the next three games”.
If that really works, the chances of the semi-finals are not bad. But Kromer’s confident words were astonished. After the opening victory of the European Championship against Romania, a historic debacle followed against top favorite Norway (23:42). In the last group match against Poland, the DHB selection shook 21:21 in the next tournament phase. Yet they are now starting with ‘fresh courage’, as assistant coach Alexander Koke said. Because thanks to the success against the Romanians, the German team took two points in the main round – and according to Kromer, they had already calculated for the tournament.
“The result is exactly what we expected,” said the 43-year-old. “We could have done more, everyone saw that. That’s why we are doing our very best for the match against Hungary.” National coach Groener had four days to solve the weak points of his team. While Kromer and Koke were talking on Friday, the 60-year-old Dutchman was relaxing in his room. Shortly before, his players had been allowed to take a walk in the fresh air to clear their heads. Then it was back to the hotel, where otherwise you can only leave for the games.
Three matches within four days will now determine whether it will be sufficient for the jump to the semi-finals, which was last achieved at the EM 2008. After the duel with the Hungarians, it will continue on Monday (6.15 pm) against world champions The Netherlands and a day later the last main round match against Croatia takes place. “I think we will be well prepared against Hungary, that we will not have to hide,” said Kromer. And Koke announced that they would “go full throttle to the first game”. The DHB selection may now also benefit from the fact that so far many teams are struggling with problems at the EM.
World champion The Netherlands alone has already lost two European Championship matches. The Hungarians didn’t even get a point in the main round. And the Croats have won everything so far, but according to Kromer are “not superior to the DHB selection”.