The German handball players celebrated the once again outstanding Andreas Wolff, the goalkeeper already expressed slight hopes for the title for the upcoming home tournament after the successful conclusion of the World Cup.
With heart, passion and Wolff as support, the team of national coach Alfred Gislason secured fifth place with 28:24 (16:13) against Norway in Stockholm on Sunday and reported back in the extended world class.
"Today we managed to play well for 60 minutes against a top opponent," said Wolff on ZDF. For the 2024 European Championships in front of a home crowd, it is now "a few adjustments to make" in order to "hopefully make up at least one or more two, three, four places".
In the ninth game at the World Cup in 17 days, the German team in front of 6260 spectators showed no after-effects from the first game in the placement round against Egypt, which was won on Friday only after extra time with 35:34. Although there were one or the other phase of weakness, this time there was no slump. The best throwers for the DHB selection were Luca Witzke, Johannes Golla and Kai Häfner, each with five goals.
Gislason "very satisfied"
"I'm very happy, we absolutely wanted to win the tournament," said coach Gislason, and also praised the players from the second row: "I'm extremely happy with the lads." But once again experienced goalkeeper Wolff shone between the posts with a world-class performance. The 31-year-old fended off numerous throws by the Norwegians - including three seven meters - and gave his front men a lot of security.
Even before the final encounter, Gislason had given the goalkeeper an excellent World Cup certificate. "He held up great," said the national coach about Wolff's performance at the finals in Poland and Sweden, and attested to the personal development of the 2016 European champion: "He's mature, calm, incredibly stable. He's ambitious, but not more tense than a few years ago."
Wolff's teammates were also wide awake at an unusually early time and showed a largely concentrated performance in defense and attack. Juri Knorr steered the game carefully again and was very well represented by Witzke during his longer breaks. Lukas Stutzke, who was nominated later, also posed a goal threat from the backcourt.
With three goals each in the first 30 minutes, the duo played a large part in the three-goal lead at the break. "It was very refreshing what the two showed," praised DHB sports director Axel Kromer at halftime.
After the change, the DHB selection even pulled away by six goals because Wolff continued to act at the highest level and now hit Häfner in front. In the final phase, strength and concentration dropped a bit, but in the end the Gislason protégés were able to celebrate.
Positive World Cup record
Even before the kick-off, Kromer had drawn a positive World Cup balance. The team "worked closer to the top of the world. We are in the closest field of pursuers," said the 46-year-old. But you don't yet have "the experience and breadth of the squad like the top teams".
That should change by next year when the European Championships in Germany increase. "The goal must be to take another step forward and be in the top four," said DHB President Andreas Michelmann.