Bitter memory of 2015: When some saw the DHB team shook

A bitter memory of 2015
When some saw the DHB team shook

By Till Erdenberger, Gdansk

The German national handball team will play the quarter-finals of the World Cup against France in the evening. It’s the first time in eight years – and the last time it has ended so bitterly and so angry. It shouldn’t have come this far in the first place.

“Before what is probably the biggest game of my career” says Juri Knorr, manager of a new generation of DHB who has been very convincing thus far: In the evening (8.30pm / ARD and in live tape on the German national handball team will play a role World Cup quarter-final against record world champion France, against current Olympic champion. Goalkeeper Andreas Wolf, who has produced an outstanding performance so far, promised: “We must approach the match with passion. We will put our hearts in our hands and make up for what we may lack in experience against the French by fighting.” The World Cup quarter-finals are something special.

Eight years have passed since the German national handball team, world champions in 1978 and 2007, was able to compete in the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the last time. And the memory is dark. “We didn’t play our best game,” Silvio Heinewetter said, visibly struggling for words, into the Sky microphone. Then the goalkeeper added at the time: “But today we can’t win the match, everyone knows that.” DHB lost to home country Qatar at 24:26 – and Henifter felt the least shaken.

“everyone knows what i think”

“We’re still guests here, so you have to be careful what you say. But anyone who’s watched the game and has any idea knows what I’m thinking.” At least the Macedonian team of referees decided on a distinctly different interpretation of the passive game. While DHB got the signal early to finish their attacks faster, the hosts had all the time in the world to stage their attacking game.

The Austrians had had a similar experience before, at least feeling unfairly treated as Heinevetter at 27:29 in the round of 16 against the host: “We were called on with a number of offensive fouls in the second half as they had in the whole tournament before. Qatar seemed to have the With good coverage,” quipped Austria’s skipper Viktor Zielage, Managing Director of THW Kiel today. “Maybe that’s to be expected. It’s hard for me to accept that.” Coach Patrikor Johansson “didn’t want to comment to the referees” after his side’s round-of-16 defeat, but did so skillfully while anticipating the rest of the tournament: “I think Qatar will be world champions.” It didn’t go that far, however, as Qatar lost to France in the final.

German handball legend Stefan Kretzschmar realistically rated the events of the end of January 2015: “Of course there were double standards at times, but never too many blatant wrong decisions,” the 218-times national player wrote in a column for Sport1. “It was an adventure in the last 10 minutes against Austria in the round of 16, and we Germans suffered a little bit from that too. But it wasn’t surprising that after the match you thought: For God’s sake, we were really shocked from here.”

“just not good enough”

“We took the score upon ourselves because we weren’t good enough in the first half,” said right winger Patrick Grotzky. On the other hand, Paul Draux preferred “not to comment” on the match, which the Germans lost to a Qatari team, and a little in front of the referees and against a huge crowd of 14,500 people. “In front of an audience like that, you better get a little cushion,” Drucks told Tagesspiegel in 2015. “For us it was quite the opposite: we always ran behind deficits.” In the end it wasn’t enough. Valero Rivera, Qatar’s coach then and now, just shrugged: “The advantage of the land is very important in handball, this is known. If this match had been played in Germany, the Germans would have won it.”

Qatar was awarded the World Cup in January 2011, a few weeks after the emirate won the controversial and just-ended 2022 World Cup bid. Qatar, which had never played major handball before, bought a strong team for the tournament with big money: only four players in the WM-20 squad. From 2013 local residents. None of them scored any goals during the tournament.

Montenegro Zarko Markovic and Goran Stojanovic, Bosnian world-class goalkeeper Daniel Saric, Frenchman Bertrand Roini, Spaniard Borja Vidal Fernandez and Cuban Rafael Capote paved the way to the final. Because in handball, unlike football, where you can only play big international matches for one country, you only need a three-year international break to change countries, and Qatar has managed to put together a strong all-star team. There was supposedly €100,000 for every World Cup match won – per player. In handball, where average annual six-figure salaries are reserved for the absolute best superstars, that’s a huge amount of money.

However, a large part of the truth is that Germany should not have been there in Qatar. From a sporting point of view, he missed qualification in the qualifiers against Poland in two matches. But since the World Federation expelled the Australians, who were rather unimportant to world handball, from the World Cup, the DHB team was able to rise – after the criteria for awarding a successor were quickly changed in favor of Germany. “It feels somehow weird to be qualified like that,” Nationals’ player Patrick Grotzky tweeted at the time. It came to a bitter end for the selection of DHB, who surprisingly became European champions a year later – losing again to Qatar at the 2017 World Cup, this time in the Round of 16 and in France.

The French felt cheated in 2007

The memory of Lucille’s evening was no longer fresh, as there were only young Paul Draux and Grotzky, a German World Cup record player. But the date is on the calendar: January 28, 2015, the last World Cup quarter-final for the German men’s national handball team. The entry will be deleted in the evening. On neutral territory, there is no home field advantage.

The new generation DHB will have to play their best to have a chance against France. Johannes Jula even talked about the “perfect game” it takes to win a knockout match again. The last time they beat France at the World Cup was in 2007, in the semifinals. It was 32:31 in Dortmund’s Westphalenhalle after two more hours – because the Swedish referees, quite controversially, did not recognize France’s equalizer. “Referees’ decisions are slipping away and unfortunately there is nothing you can do,” FFF technical director Philippe Bana said at the time.

On the eve of the match, the French spoke to the President of the Egyptian World Handball Federation, Hassan Mostafa. “We told him we didn’t want to experience what the Spaniards suffered against the Germans in the quarter-finals,” Bana said. It is clear that the message did not reach ».

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