On the overnight bus ride from hamburg to herning, national coach christian prokop got the deeply disenchanted german handball players ready for the battle for world championship bronze.
"He cheered up the team," reported DHB sports director axel kromer. "The boys know that they can only be successful again if they are in a good mood."
After the shattered gold dream by the 25:31 (12:14) in the semifinal against norway, the DHB selection is striving this sunday (14.30 p.M./ZDF) with a success against record champion france a small happy end at the successful home world championship. "We are professionals and naturally want a rewarding conclusion," said prokop before the match for third place in herning. "We will put everything into the last game."
The defeat against the clever norwegians, who won on sunday (17.30 o’clock) against co-host danmark for the title, the players on the bus tour to danmark were still feeling the effects for several hours. "Of course the boys were disappointed. There’s no question that the mood is not good," said team manager oliver roggisch.
The expectations had been too high beforehand, the fall too deep after 60 gripping minutes in front of 12,500 spectators in the packed hamburger arena. "Of course it hurts to lose a semifinal. I feel empty, I think the whole team feels empty," said right wing patrick groetzki, describing his feelings.
On saturday, therefore, in addition to regeneration, psychological reconstruction work was the most important thing. Prokop cancels the planned training session without further ado. Even though the wintermarchen 2.0 nothing came of it, but at least the first world championship medal since the 2007 triumph beckons. "We have the claim to be able to take something with us after these great performances," said kromer. And roggisch stressed: "the team is ready to give it another 60 minutes and bring the medal to germany."
For this, the last forces must be mobilized, because the tank is no longer full after nine games in 15 days. "If a team now says that all the players are fit, then something is going wrong. We have a lot of injured players," reported roggisch.
At the very latest, with the kickoff, that’s slipping into the background. "No one wants to go home after the tournament and say: gee, we came fourth," explained backcourt player fabian bohm. "We owe it to the fans. We had such a great atmosphere in the halls. We really want that bronze medal."
The 29-year-old from bundesliga club TSV hannover-burgdorf was the only offensive force with penetrating power against norway, scoring six goals alongside captain uwe gensheimer, who scored seven times. More importantly, however, the defense did not shine as brightly as it had earlier in the tournament. "Unfortunately, we did not live up to our claim of having the strongest defense in the world. And in the front we have lost a lot of courage. The result is right the way it is," said DHB vice president bob hanning.
This did not change the positive overall impression that the german team made in the days of berlin, koln and hamburg. "We played an outstanding world championship in germany," said hanning. "It’s a pity we didn’t reach the finals. But the bottom line is that the guys can be super proud of what they have accomplished. We have shown that we are once again in the top of the world."
Even if the game against norway was lost – handball in germany was definitely a winner. 11.91 million people rooted for the prokop team in front of the TV sets on friday evening, giving ARD record ratings for this world cup. "We have won many sympathies. It’s very important that we take advantage of that," said the national coach. And circle player jannik kohlbacher stated: "we have the feeling that we still have handball germany behind us."
In any case, the response after the bitter defeat was enormous. Already in the catacombs of the arena, german president frank-walter steinmeier and his wife gave comfort to some of the players around captain gensheimer. "That was a really great time. This team has been inspiring," praised steinmeier. DFB president reinhard grindel, who had also printed his thumbs on the tribune, sent best grube via twitter: "it’s a pity that our handball players didn’t reach the final. But they impressed us with their play, their team spirit and their fighting spirit."
The aim is to do the same again in the final against six-time world champions france. Kohlbacher therefore issued the motto: "of course, the trade-off is rough, but you can still reward yourself with a medal – and that’s what pays."