Withdrawal, quarantine, title chance: DHB team has to compete despite the chaos – and now?

Withdrawal, quarantine, title chance
DHB team has to compete despite the chaos – and now?

The first main round game of the German handball team at the European Championship against Spain will take place as planned in the evening, and the application by the German Handball Federation (DHB) to move the game is rejected. And now? Is the DHB team withdrawing or does it still have a sporting chance?

Is the German team withdrawing from the European Championship?

No, at least not for the time being. At a crisis meeting between players, the head of the DHB association and league representatives on Wednesday evening, it was agreed that the first step would be to try further nominations. DHB CEO Mark Schober described the situation as “very dynamic”. The situation will be reassessed every day. It could well be that when the facts are new, “a different decision will have to be made again,” says Schober.

The German team currently has to cope with twelve corona-related absences. Eleven of the 17 players originally nominated for the European Championship are now out – plus Hendrik Wagner, who was called up later. After the three other positive findings on Wednesday, Lukas Stutzke, David Schmidt (both Bergischer HC) and Tobias Reichmann (MT Melsungen) have also been nominated. Stutzke arrived at the German team headquarters in Bratislava on Wednesday evening. Schmidt and Reichmann arrived in the morning. A few hours before the game against Spain, the team was spared further positive corona cases. All PCR tests carried out on Wednesday evening were negative, the DHB announced.

Is the EM over for the infected players?

No. All twelve DHB players affected by Corona are in isolation. You can test yourself free with two negative PCR tests after five days and theoretically intervene again during the tournament. With Julius Kühn, where the first infection in the German team occurred during the European Championship, it could remain theory. Although he shows no symptoms according to the DHB, the PCR test of the 2016 European champion on Wednesday was positive – his return to the team has been postponed indefinitely. “He was negatively surprised,” said DHB sports director Axel Kromer.

Due to the trio nominated on Wednesday, the number of DHB players at this European Championship increases to a total of 28. According to the current status, 13 of them are for the start of the main round against European champions Spain on Thursday evening (6 p.m. on ARD and in the live ticker on operational, twelve are in quarantine. Assuming a negative PCR test, the three stragglers can also play against Spain.

Has the risk of a German withdrawal been averted?

No. In view of the Omicron variant, which is raging in the German team, new cases can arise at any time in the daily PCR tests ordered by the organizer. National coach Gislason sincerely hopes “that it won’t end up like we travel home with a 50-man squad”. But in the meantime (as of Thursday morning) the DHB had to have eleven additional players flown in. There shouldn’t be many more – if at all. Especially since the HBL is already feeling “strong abdominal pain” in view of the current situation. “It makes no sense to load players from the Bundesliga endlessly,” said league president Uwe Schwenker before the last nomination.

Is the Spain game at risk?

No. Although the DHB had submitted a formal application to the European Handball Federation EHF to postpone the game and suggested a postponement to Saturday or Monday, this was rejected. The regulations stipulate that a team with a minimum number of five players is able to play. The German team is (still) far away from that.

Does the team still have any sporting chances?

Yes. And that’s the crazy thing about the situation. Of course, the many failures for Gislason are totally bitter. But the current squad is of enormous quality, and infected top players can still return. With the nominated goalkeeper Johannes Bitter, the DHB team has certainly not deteriorated, and the Berlin backcourt players Paul Drux and Fabian Wiede are just as international as Tobias Reichmann, who has now joined the team. However, if the chain of infection is not broken as soon as possible, all quality will be of no use.

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