The contemplative Christmas holidays couldn't go by quickly enough for Alfred Gislason. The national handball coach is too excited about the upcoming European Championships, in which the DHB selection would like to compete for the medals.
"I'm happy to be able to experience a home European Championship now. This is something special and a new experience for me too," Gislason told the German Press Agency.
The countdown to the mega event from January 10th to 28th in six German cities begins on Wednesday, when the 64-year-old Icelander brings his 19-member European Championship squad together for a three-day course in Frankfurt am Main. “I’m looking forward to this measure more than Christmas,” Gislason said just before the holidays.
In addition to four intensive training sessions, team building measures are on the agenda. "The days are very important for us. It won't be about really putting the pedal to the metal, but rather getting to know each other better. But there won't be any mumbo-jumbo," said Gislason and added: "I'm hoping for a lot of it. We will, however Only see later whether that made sense and achieved something."
European Championship opener in front of a world record backdrop
DHB sports director Axel Kromer is confident “that we will develop an even better team feeling in the next few days”. The team has to deliver by January 10th at the latest when the European Championship opener against Switzerland takes place in Düsseldorf in front of a world record crowd of over 50,000 fans. This is followed by the move to Berlin, where North Macedonia and record world champions France are the other opponents in the preliminary round.
The national coach is also relying on the fan factor in the final round. “A positive atmosphere in the stands can inspire a team,” said Gislason. Kromer also assumes this. “We know from the 2007 and 2019 World Cups what a huge euphoria the audience brings to the country. We are looking forward to the weeks in which handball will be particularly in focus,” said the 46-year-old.
However, Gislason also knows that his protégés first have to do some preliminary work in order to interact with the audience: "The spark has to jump from the parquet to the stands." To ensure that this is successful, he will first work intensively on the processes in Frankfurt and then from New Year's Day onwards at the final preparatory course in Brunsbüttel.
Two test matches before the European Championships
"For example, after the loss of Luca Witzke, we have to train new middle players. In particular Marian Michalczik, who was not there against Egypt at the beginning of November. But it is also about providing significantly more alternatives in defense so that we are not so dependent on them "How Johannes Golla and Julian Köster play. These are the first focal points," announced Gislason.
The DHB team completed its final test runs in two international matches against Portugal on January 4th in Flensburg and January 6th in Kiel. Until then, Gislason wants to talk to every European Championship driver about “what we expect from them.”
During the nomination discussions, he noticed that the players were willing to do great things at the European Championships in front of their home crowd. "Everyone is really looking forward to it. I'm sure they'll give it their all and enjoy the atmosphere at the same time," said Gislason and added: "It's something big for everyone who can be there. As a player, you don't experience that so often." This also applies to the national coach.