Poland/Sweden 2023 prompts coaching changes throughout the globe

09 Feb. 2023

Poland/Sweden 2023 prompts coaching changes throughout the globe

The conclusion of the 28th edition of the IHF Men's World Championship saw some teams enjoy their results, while others lamented bad luck or bad matches that derailed their campaigns. Like in every other competition of this magnitude, the aftermath has produced some significant changes. Several teams have changed course in the space of only a few days, with disappointing results prompting coaching changes.

Three European sides – Croatia, Montenegro and Poland – and one African team – Egypt – have seen their future change course, with coaching changes on the horizon. For one of the teams, the replacement has already been drawn up and presented. 

Jurecki replaces Rombel at Poland's helm

Co-hosts Poland were touted to be one of the teams to watch during the 28th IHF Men's World Championship as the "Spodek" Arena in Katowice was sold out for the preliminary round matches against France, Slovenia and Saudi Arabia. However, Poland lost their first two matches and were out of contention for a quarter-finals berth as soon as the first match of the main round in the "Tauron" Arena in Krakow. This prompted a lengthy analysis to see what went wrong. Eventually, one week after the conclusion of the event, the Polish Handball Federation (ZPRP) decided not to renew the expiring contract of coach Patryk Rombel.

Rombel assumed the position of Poland men's national team coach in 2019 and led the side to a 13th place finish at Egypt 2021 and a 15th place finish at Poland/Sweden 2023 while also ending up in 20th place at the EHF EURO 2020 and 12th place at the EHF EURO 2022. "Leading the national team was a great honour and distinction for me. I believe that as a coach I have not yet said the last word and in the future I will take up new challenges, including those that contribute to the development of Polish handball," said Rombel after the announcement. Rombel's former assistant Bartosz Jurecki will take over for the next months, leading Poland in the EHF EURO 2024 Qualifiers doubleheader against France.

Croatia replace Horvat with Perkovac

Since finishing in 13th place in their first participation at the IHF Men's World Championship in 1995, Croatia have only missed the top 10 once, in 2021, when they ended up in 15th place. After an eighth-place finish at the EHF EURO 2022, Croatia also disappointed at Poland/Sweden 2023, where they ended up in ninth place after a painful loss against Egypt in the first match of the championship in the preliminary round.

This prompted a change as Hrvoje Horvat's tenure as the head coach was cut short due to the failure to achieve the objective set before the competition of sealing a quarter-finals berth. Croatia quickly acted and named Goran Perkovac as the new coach. A former star of Yugoslavia as a player, Perkovac has extensive experience as a coach in Switzerland, having also been the head coach of the Switzerland and Greece men's national senior teams. "The dream of every coach is to lead the men's national team," said Perkovac at his first press conference since his appointment. "It is bad that we do not have more preparation days during the year to improve our tactics and tune in. I have a clear vision of what I want to do with the team. I know the key players and how to structure the team," said Perkovac after his appointment.

Roganović leaves Montenegro "in excellent condition"

Zoran Roganović has made Montenegro one of the most challenging European teams to beat in the past few years, as the former international turned coach created an excellent side which qualified for the IHF Men's World Championship for the first time since 2013. With wins over the Islamic Republic of Iran and Chile and a loss against Spain, Montenegro progressed to the main round, but a four-match losing streak ended their ambitions, with an 18th place finish at the end of Poland/Sweden 2023.

"I didn't succeed. I assured that we would qualify for the Olympic Games. And for me, the word is more important than anything else. I wish luck to the national team. What I like best is that I leave the team in a phenomenal condition, and that's the most important thing. We have a very good team. Maybe one day I'll come back when I'm better and smarter. So that I don't make the same mistakes with my preparations," said Roganović. A new coach has not been announced.

García Parrondo leaves Egypt to focus on club team

Egypt has become one of the powerhouses of world handball since Roberto García Parrondo took over the team in 2019, as the Spanish mastermind has been credited with the excellent performances of the "Pharaohs" by players and fans alike, with the former praising his man-management skills and excellent tactical prowess. However, after Egypt finished seventh at Egypt 2021 and Poland/Sweden 2023 and had the best-ever finish at the Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020, where they ended up in fourth place, García Parrondo considered it the moment to call it a day.

"I will not extend the contract with Egypt. I had been asked to continue working there full-time, but I said it was impossible as I am with MT Melsungen and will not be leaving the club now. I like coaching a national team, but the condition is always that I can continue working with MT Melsungen," said García Parrondo after leading Egypt to the seventh place at Poland/Sweden 2023.