At the very end, Hanning formulated a sentence that was both an invitation and a wish. “Now we’re going to hit Uruguay tomorrow with a cup of tea in hand,” said the Vice President of the German Handball Federation (DHB). He was sitting in the hotel of the German team not far from the pyramids of Giza when he expressed his hope that with the opening game against the South Americans on Friday the debate about the World Cup in Egypt will be thematically shifted – away from corona tests and hygiene concerns, towards sport.
The tea symbolizes a certain serenity that Hanning would like for the next few days. In the run-up to the tournament, the event was questioned and this discussion received a powerful tailwind after the USA and the Czech Republic had to be excluded because there had been too many corona infections. All 32 participating teams have now arrived in and around the Egyptian capital and there has been no positive case within the tournament bubble.
For Philipp Weber the health aspects do not play a major role anyway. “Other people are responsible for that, I feel safe here,” said the backcourt player from SC DHfK Leipzig: “We are here to play handball and I am looking forward to it.” Weber’s joy in the game will be necessary, because national coach Alfred Gislason has chosen him as the number one playmaker. For the first time against Uruguay, the Leipziger is challenged to give the game of the German team the clearest possible contour. The South Americans will not be a stumbling block for the DHB selection: It is not about the victory itself, but about “getting into the tournament well,” as Gislason put it. Many players on the Icelandic’s team are playing a world championship for the first time and therefore they have to be convinced as quickly as possible that they are good enough to survive at this level. They have that feeling, after all, they are all seasoned Bundesliga players, but they need to be confirmed in competition.
Uruguay’s handball players are basically a pleasant opponent, because they are only in the lower average on an international scale. However, Gislason and Weber pointed out independently of one another, the South Americans will defend themselves with great physical effort. “We mustn’t let ourselves be impressed by the hardness,” demanded Weber. Simply stick to your own concept, even if it will sometimes cause pain, is the motto of the German handball players.
For the reformed team against Uruguay, it’s about continuing to work on the matter of course on the field. In the clear victories in the European Championship qualification against Austria, which were also the test games before the World Cup, the team showed positive approaches. Andreas Wolff was almost euphoric after the second comparison against the neighbor, a 34:20 win. “I’m really up for it,” he said. The goalkeeper is convinced that the team is well prepared for the demands of a World Cup. The stress test during the tournament is still pending.
Gislason, the old coach, also felt joy before his tournament premiere as coach of the German national team. “I’m always tense,” he said, referring to the 60 minutes against Uruguay. Nevertheless, the Icelander let it be known that he was expecting success, as was the case in the second preliminary round against the Cape Verde Islands on Sunday. “We won’t know where we stand until after the game against Hungary,” said Gislason. The game against the Magyars is on the World Cup schedule next Tuesday. The 60 minutes against the Hungarians will show how big the role of the Germans can be in this tournament. In the best case scenario, until then only the athletic chances are discussed – and not about positive test results and gaps in the bladder.