After the lackluster entry of German handball players into the main round of the European Championship, Christian Prokop couldn't even get a tender smile.
With a petrified expression, the national coach followed the cautious cheers of his protégés after the 28:27 (16:11) tremor win in the group final against Latvia, with which the fourth in the World Cup effortlessly averted the impending first round elimination at the European Championship.
"The main thing is that we won. It is only important that we are further. That was the order today, »said Prokop about the poor presentation of the DHB team in the end. In it only the well-behaved Julius Kühn knew how to convince on Monday in front of 3540 spectators in Trondheim with eight goals. But MT Melsungen's back area shooter was not particularly happy: "We have to be honest with ourselves and work through the mistakes."
After the 26:33 defeat against defending champion Spain, the Prokop team went 0: 2 points into the main round, where there will be a duel with Belarus in Vienna on January 16. "We want to successfully dispute that," said the national coach.
The next key game against Croatia is in the fight for the semi-finals two days later. The other two main round opponents will only be determined on Tuesday. "We have to improve in many areas and become more confident," said right wing Tobias Reichmann.
This applies primarily to goalkeepers, who were not a factor against Latvia either. For the first time in the course of the tournament, Germany started between the posts with the 37-year-old oldie Johannes Bitter, who was there in 2007 at the World Cup triumph. The Stuttgart parried an important seven-meter in the first half, but again did not find the hoped-for top form. "I didn't manage to push the situation away," Bitter admitted on ZDF.
Andreas Wolff was also not the hoped-for support in the tight final phase. "We didn't get much help from the goalkeepers in the second half," said Prokop. The game seemed already decided after some start-up difficulties at 24:17 (43rd).
But the Latvians, who had previously lost significantly against Spain and the Netherlands, made the DHB team sweat again. As in the previous games, the fourth in the world championship, making four minor mistakes for captain Uwe Gensheimer, director Paul Drux and right winger Timo Kastening, made several minor mistakes in the attack. In addition, the cover was no longer stable, which melted the lead ten minutes before the end at 25:22 to three goals.
Prokop reacted with a break and swore in his proteges again in a calm voice for the final sprint. Six minutes before the end of the season, it was really dangerous in double outnumber. The outsider used his numerical superiority and reduced to two goals.
40 seconds before the end, the completely out of step DHB team even threatened to give up the game at 28:27, but managed to bring the narrow lead to the finish with difficulty. "A big stone fell from my heart because it was really tight again," admitted Prokop. “I'm still very happy that we won this psychologically difficult game. I hope that we will improve bit by bit now. »