GermanyCoach: Alfred Gislason
2016 was an exceptional year for the Germany men’s national team. At the EHF EURO in Poland, they surprised everyone and triumphed against Spain after an outstanding first half, where All-star goalkeeper Andreas Wolff conceded only six goals and paved the way for the commanding 24:17 victory in the final.
Only half a year later at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, they showed another impressive performance, finishing atop of their group but were stopped by France in the semi-finals. They recovered quickly from the defeat and took the bronze medal against Poland. Left wing Uwe Gensheimer was not only the top scorer for his team with 49 goals but was also voted as All-star left wing.
Since then, Germany have not medalled again at a major international tournament. They had the chance at the 2019 IHF Men’s World Championship in Germany/Denmark again, where they were carried by a passionate home crowd to the semi-finals, which they lost to Norway. In the bronze-medal match, they were defeated by France with a last-second goal.
The 2021 IHF Men’s World Championship in Egypt was disappointing for the German team as they failed their expectations and had their worst finish ever, ranking 12th. Head coach Alfred Gislason, who has been in charge for the team for almost a year now, could not unravel the whole quality of the team as several key players such as Hendrik Pekeler and Patrick Wiencek, the two line players who also play together for the German club THW Kiel, and right backs Fabian Wiede and Steffen Weinhold did not participate.
All four players rejoin the squad for the Tokyo Handball Qualification 2020 – Men’s Tournament 3. Especially the presence of Pekeler, who was voted Most Valuable Player at the 2019/20 EHF Champions League FINAL4, and Wiencek will be crucial, as they form the heart of the German defence.
“Pekeler and Wiencek are among the best defenders in the world. That will have a very positive effect, as well as on the cooperation with the goalkeepers,” said Gislason.
While right wing Timo Kastening was on the rise during the EHF EURO 2020, left wing Marcel Schiller used his time on court in Egypt. He ended up as top scorer for his team with 21 goals and proved to be a threat from the penalty line, scoring 12 from his 15 attempts.
All in all, 10 players from the current squad played at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016 and will be eager to return to the Olympic stage in Tokyo this summer.
“Our aim is to qualify for the Olympic Games”, said Gislason and continued, “our opponents and the programme are a challenge, but I am convinced that our team is able to take it.”
“It’s a tough group with two really strong opponents and Algeria, who convinced and also surprised at the World Championship,” said goalkeeper Johannes Bitter before the tournament to German media.
The 38-year-old recently signed a five-year contract with his former club Hamburg Handball. Like in Egypt, the three goalkeepers Silvio Heinevetter, Andreas Wolff and Johannes Bitter are the team between the posts.
The German team have already met on Saturday, 6 March to prepare for the tournament. They will play the first two matches against the European teams from Sweden and Slovenia. They faced both teams during the group phase at the last Olympic Games, winning both encounters.
Since then, they have played Sweden only twice, in a friendly double-leg in March 2017, where they could not beat the 2021 World Championship silver-medallists. Although their paths have not crossed since, both teams know each other well, as most of the Swedish players play in the German Bundesliga.
As for Slovenia, their last encounters have been in favour for the German team, winning both EHF EURO 2018 Qualification matches, followed by a 25:25 draw at the EHF EURO 2018.
Unlike the European teams, which they met in recent handball history, Germany have not faced the African side since the IHF Men’s World Championship in Croatia 2009, where they defeated Algeria 32:20.
Key players: Uwe Gensheimer (left wing), Andreas Wolff (goalkeeper), Hendrik Pekeler (line player)
Qualification for Tokyo Handball Qualification 2020: 2019 IHF Men’s World Championship – 4th place
History in Olympic Games: 1936: 1st, 1972: 4th**/6th*, 1976: 4th*, 1980: 1st**, 1984: 2nd*, 1988: 7th**, 1992: 10th, 1996: 7th, 2000: 5th, 2004: 2nd, 2008: 9th, 2016: 3rd
*FRG (West Germany) ** GDR (East Germany)
Tokyo Handball Qualification 2020 – Tournament 3: Germany (GER), Sweden (SWE), Slovenia (SLO), Algeria (ALG)
Photo: Sascha Klahn/DHB