02 Mar. 2022
The IHF are pleased to announce the nominees for the 2021 IHF World Coach of the Year – Male team(s), with the shortlist being decided by a pool of experts, who earmarked the top coaches in men’s handball in 2021.
Coaches from three different countries are represented in the final shortlist, with Spain boasting three nominees, while France and Denmark each feature one nominee for the IHF World Coach of the Year – Male team(s) award.
Three of the nominees are leading national teams, while the other two have been plying their trade both at club and at national team level in 2021.
Roberto Garcia Parrondo – Egypt / MT Melsungen (since July 2021)
When Roberto Garcia Parrondo was named Egypt men’s national team coach, few would have expected such a resurgence of the Pharaohs on the world’s biggest stages. With a team full of brimming young talent, but also with plenty of experience, Garcia Parrondo motivated the players, improved the tactical aspect of their game and the results swiftly followed in 2021.
Egypt produced one of the IHF Men’s World Championship all-time great performances in the quarter-final against Denmark, losing 38:39 after penalties against a team that built an unprecedented 19-game unbeaten streak in the competition. The seventh place in the tournament they hosted added more fuel to the fire for Egypt, who secured the best-ever Olympic Games performance, clinching the fourth place at Tokyo 2020.
It is undoubtedly a big performance for the Spanish coach, who has also assumed club duties this summer, signing for MT Melsungen – the team currently place sixth in the German Bundesliga, one of their best-ever seasons in the domestic league.
Guillaume Gille – France
Claude Onesta and Didier Dinart were former French recipients of the IHF World Coach of the Year award and now, Guillaume Gille can follow in their footsteps after a superb 2021. The former assistant coach of ‘Les Bleus’ assumed the head coach position in 2020 and led France to their third Olympic title, after winning the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 final against Denmark 25:23.
Both Onesta and Dinart secured the award twice, while Gille, who started his coaching career in 2013, is eager to bring more silverware to the table. France only finished fourth at Egypt 2021, in Gille’s first major tournament, but he really pushed the restart button after a disappointing EHF EURO 2020, when ‘Les Bleus’ were eliminated from the competition after the group phase.
Ushering in new players throughout his stint as the head coach of France men’s national team, Gille has proved his mettle and is definitely one of the coaches on the rise in handball at the moment.
Nikolaj Jacobsen – Denmark
Jacobsen could become the second Danish to secure the IHF World Coach of the Year award after Ulrik Wilbek clinched the trophy in 2011. The former left wing, who took over Denmark men’s national team in 2017, has been constantly improving the side, leading the team to a great 2021.
After securing the gold medal at the 2019 IHF Men’s World Championship, Jacobsen repeated the feature at Egypt 2021, clinching gold after another unbeaten run, creating the best-ever streak in the history of the competition, 19 games without conceding a loss.
It could have been a perfect 2021, yet Denmark stumbled in the final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 against France, where the Scandinavian’s side golden generation lost 23:25, securing their first silver medal in history. A pro-active, very attacking-minded coach, Jacobsen is the heart and soul of this Denmark team, who will always be among the favourites at major tournaments in this current iteration.
Xavier Pascual Fuertes – Barça (until June 2021) / C.S. Dinamo Bucuresti (since July 2021), Romania (since October 2021)
2021 has been a year of change for Xavier Pascual Fuertes. The legendary Barça coach ended a 12-year association with the Spanish champions, but not before delivering one of the best seasons in club history. Barça won all the games they played throughout the Spanish league, the Spanish Cup, the Spanish Super Cup and last, but not least, the EHF Champions League Men.
In an unprecedented streak, Barça swept their opponents on the way to their 10th trophy in the European premium competition, going on a 20-game winning streak, including a superb 36:23 win against Aalborg Håndbold in the final. However, after winning over 60 trophies with Barça, it was time for a new challenge for Pascual, who decided to sign for Romanian champions C.S. Dinamo Bucuresti.
Building a new team in Dinamo is probably the greatest challenge in Pascual’s career, who has also signed to coach the Romania men’s national team for his second stint in this position. The big challenge is to bring the former world champions back to the IHF Men’s World Championship, a feature Romania achieved only twice in the past 28 years.
Jordi Ribera – Spain
Since being appointed as Spain men’s national team coach in 2016, Jordi Ribera secured five medals with ‘Los Hispanos’, two of which came in 2021. In January, Spain finished third at the IHF Men’s World Championship in Egypt, after dropping only a single game, the hard-fought 33:35 loss against Denmark in the semi-finals. A few months later, Ribera led Spain to their fourth bronze medal at the Olympic Games, securing a 33:31 win against Egypt, after conceding another loss against Denmark in the semi-finals.
A tactical mastermind who can easily adapt to what the opponent has to offer, Ribera has transformed an aging Spain squad into a strong unit, both in defence and in attack. He will now supervise a change of generations as his contract was extended until 2024 thanks to the superb results achieved by ‘Los Hispanos’, especially at the EHF EURO, where they made the final for three editions in a row.
This year, the fan voting for the IHF World Coach of the Year – Male team(s) will run from Monday, 7 March, until 00:00 CEST on 28 March. The IHF will announce the winner on 28 March.
In 2020, the awarding of the title was cancelled due to the disruption in handball caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo of Xavier Pascual Fuertes courtesy of EHF / kolektiff