Germany’s handball players around goalkeeper Andreas Wolff just passed the World Cup character test despite an inexplicable slump. At the start of the placement round, the team of national coach Alfred Gislason came out on Friday against Olympic fourth-placed Egypt to a 35:34 (30:30, 17:14) victory after extra time and thus had the chance to finish fifth.
In front of the desolate backdrop of 1604 spectators in the huge Stockholm Arena, the DHB selection, for which Juri Knorr was the best thrower with seven goals, showed the hoped-for reaction to the clear quarter-final defeat (28:35) against France. The tournament concludes on Sunday against Norway or Hungary, who then met each other.
From the bitter quarter-finals a few days earlier, there was no sign of the DHB selection. The German team got off to an excellent start, and once again that was largely down to Wolff. The goalkeeper saved a number of throws by the Egyptians from the first few seconds of the game. So Gislason’s team pulled away quickly. Although the semi-finals of a major tournament were missed again, the German Handball Association wants to extend the 2024 contract with the 63-year-old Icelander as soon as possible.
Already in the first round, Wolff had an outstanding rate of saved shots. With his saves, the 31-year-old laid the foundation for a good start, and the national coach was initially satisfied. “You’re doing everything very, very well,” Gislason praised his players during a time-out during the first half. Such words are not often heard from the Icelander, but in fact there was hardly anything to complain about until then. Which, in addition to Wolff, was mainly due to Knorr this time.
The director conducted the German game again with flying colors and also collected more goals and assists. The youngest in the German team has long been one of the best scorers in the tournament. At just 22 years old, he’s in a league with world-class backcourt players like Mikkel Hansen and Kay Smits.
What was also true, however, was that the rest of the team could not keep up with the performances of Wolff and Knorr over the long term. So the Egyptians kept coming. And mostly when Wolff, for once, didn’t show any top parades. That’s why the German team was only three goals ahead at the break.
The bar saves the DHB team
But the defense improved, so Wolff experienced some relief. With eight goals, the German team led in the meantime, just under ten minutes before the end it was only two. The Egyptians never gave up, exploited German weaknesses and even equalized in the closing stages of regular time and almost won when a crossbar hit.
In the ten-minute extra playing time they were even ahead at 33:32. Julian Köster finally redeemed Gislason’s protégés with the winning goal. (dpa)
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