Cologne (dpa) - Andreas Wolff would have liked to get on the plane to Egypt immediately after the auspicious World Cup dress rehearsal for the German handball players.
«I'm very excited about the tournament.
It is always an honor to play for Germany, "said the world-class goalkeeper, full of anticipation for the XXL finals starting on Wednesday with 32 teams for the first time.
"I hope for a fantastic result at the World Cup."
The personnel problems, the unrest triggered by Wolff's criticism of the World Cup cancellation by some teammates and, last but not least, the worries about health in uncertain Corona times - the German team wants to leave all of this behind when they take off from Düsseldorf for Cairo on Tuesday morning.
«We want to achieve the best possible with the players who are there.
A German team must always have the right to play in the knockout phase of a tournament, ”said DHB Vice President Bob Hanning of the German press agency.
If the team is ready to compensate for the nominal disadvantages with passion, even the semifinals are possible.
National coach Alfred Gislason was also much more confident than a week ago.
«I am very satisfied with the preparation.
The team did an outstanding job and quickly internalized all of the ideas ”, he praised after the sovereign 34:20 victory in the last World Cup test against Austria, which prematurely bought the ticket for the 2022 European Championship.
"We have come a long way."
The DHB team, which was newly formed after nine cancellations, takes this good feeling with them to the Nile, where they meet Uruguay, Cape Verde and Hungary in the preliminary round in Giza.
“After the first few days of training, I had a few more worry lines on my forehead,” reported Captain Uwe Gensheimer.
"But we have improved day by day and hopefully we are not finished yet."
In particular, the defense that Gislason identified as the biggest construction site after Hendrik Pekeler, Patrick Wiencek, Steffen Weinhold and Finn Lemke had voluntarily renounced the World Cup, worked in part excellently on Sunday evening in Cologne.
«What the boys did in the first half was extraordinary.
Fantastic », the strong Wolff praised his front men.
"That would have posed problems for any team in the world."
Above all, the inner block with Sebastian Firnhaber and Johannes Golla was convincing and gave Gislason hope to survive at the World Cup.
«We wanted to provide an aggressive 6-0 cover, which we did well in the first half.
The 5: 1 system also worked, ”the 61-year-old Icelander analyzed.
And Firnhaber explained: "If we keep the intensity, something cool can emerge."
Behind it shone Wolff, who had come under criticism in the previous week for his critical comments about the voluntary World Cup cancellations of some teammates for family reasons.
"Andi had an outstanding day," Gislason praised the keeper from the Polish top team Vive Kielce.
After the Austria game, Wolff himself tried to draw a line under the debate he had triggered.
“Cancellations are not an issue at the World Cup, we have to look ahead.
It was not and will not be an issue, ”emphasized the 29-year-old on Sunday evening.
Before that, however, he had given up on the matter again.
"I'm not a family man, I can't empathize with that, but family men from other countries also take part," said Wolff in an interview published on Monday by the "Kicker".
That is all history now - just like the host's plan to host the World Cup with spectators.
After a conversation between IHF President Hassan Moustafa and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly as well as other high-ranking government representatives from the North African country, the planned spectator concept with a capacity of 20 percent of the hall capacity was finally rejected at the insistence of Europe's top nations.
"This is very good news for handball sport and its external impact in the next few weeks," said goalkeeper oldie Johannes Bitter.
Gislason was also relieved.
He can now concentrate fully on working with the team and look forward to his World Cup premiere as national coach: "I hope that we will be a tournament team as always and that we will improve from game to game."
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210111-99-980260 / 2
The German group in the European Championship qualification
Squad of German handball players
Game schedule of the German handball players
Presidium of the German Handball Federation
Board of the German Handball Federation