National coach christian prokop appeared relaxed before the first acid test for the german handball players in their mission to defend their title at the european championships.
And his proteges were also looking forward to the duel with slovenia after their furious start to the tournament against montenegro. "We want to take the momentum with us and remain successful," said prokop ahead of the european champions’ second preliminary round test against the world championship third-placed team on monday (18.15 o’clock). "We want to continue to live the bad boys mentality."
With a victory, the DHB selection would book a ticket for the main round ahead of time. But the task will be much more difficult than in the convincing 32:19 opening victory against montenegro. "Even with a night’s distance the victory seems as good as yesterday. We delivered a very good overall package," praised prokop, and then went straight to the agenda: "but now we have to prepare intensively for slovenia."
The world championship third is already under brutal pressure after its 24:25 opening defeat against macedonia. This does not make the tricky task any easier. "It doesn’t matter that we can already make the progress perfect. It’s a matter of holding your own in the preliminary round, because you take the points," said goalkeeper andreas wolff.
A win against slovenia would only be half the battle if the DHB selection could afford a slip-up against macedonia at the end of the preliminary round. "We have to win every game," wolff therefore demanded.
The 2016 european championship hero, who limped to the "man of the match" award with a thickly bandaged bone after his class performance on saturday, will also be in action against slovenia despite the injury. "The fub is doing well. It hurts, but it is not an injury. There’s nothing to worry about," said wolff.
Only captain uwe gensheimer of the german team can remember the last defeat against slovenia. In november 2005, the DHB team lost 30:31 in lemgo – the then 19-year-old left-footed player was making his national debut. The european champions recently celebrated two clear victories against their rivals in the european championship qualifiers. "Of course, every series will grate at some point. But I hope it won’t be on monday of all days," said wolff.
The statistics and the convincing performance against montenegro have boosted the self-confidence and confidence of the german team. Gensheimer, who was the best DHB guard in the opener with nine goals, made it clear with self-confidence: "if we are so concentrated and play so aggressively, then it will be difficult for every opponent."
But there is no reason for euphoria. "It was a good start, but no more than that. We must build on this. The slovenia game will be something completely different," warned DHB vice-president bob hanning.
The female also prokop. He expects an opponent that is one of the strongest teams in the tournament and has a very aggressive defense with a great keeper behind it. "Our team spirit will be even more strongly challenged there. We have to play smart and tactically disciplined," prokop formulated his requirements.
Mentally, too, the german team faces a much rougher challenge. "The atmosphere i’ve always warned about we’ll see tomorrow in the hall," he warned on sunday. "This is now about a test of cohesion."His proteges seem ready after the great start to the european championships. "We saw total commitment from all the players," hanning praised. "That’s what it was all about."