Hanning: DFB did handball no favors

Bob Hanning is one of the architects of the latest great success of the German national handball team: in 2016, the Polish team, with national coach Dagur Sigurdsson installed by DHB vice-president Hanning, surprisingly became European champion. But after the Olympic bronze in the same year, things get complicated in the sport: it is only at the World Cup on home soil in 2019 that you will be able to reach a semi-final again. The defeat against Norway is all the same the last direct elimination match of the DHB selection during a European Championship or a World Cup. Now the team is playing in Poland again and Hanning, who left the position at his own request in 2021, sees an exciting development. Also because the memory of 2016 is still present in the team.

ntv.de: Bob Hanning, before the start of the World Cup you launched the somewhat provocative slogan: “Handball can now eclipse football”. They alluded to the supposed disenchantment with German football that reigned after the December days in Qatar. Does German handball take advantage of the chance it always has in January when football is suspended?

Bob Hanning: First of all, it was never about bashing football for me. It is important to me that we meet the spirit of the times with our sport. And I think what the guys have brought to the record so far is exactly what we were hoping for: genuine, honest, lots of passion, lots of blood. Without overestimating the previous opponents, I am really very satisfied with the performance of the German team so far.

The German team won all four games, some of them quite clearly. The quarter-finals are at hand. What did you particularly like about the first four games?

I like the atmosphere. That obviously young people met to really achieve something together. They have developed a special feeling for each other. It’s not so important at the moment that we are always good in defense or that it is enough against the Netherlands.

Is it enough against the Netherlands? A victory on Saturday (8:30 p.m. / ZDF and in the live ticker on ntv.de) would mean entry into the quarter-finals.

Yes, I am absolutely convinced of it. Also because we have always found plenty of good solutions in attack.

A particularly large number of good solutions are initiated by Juri Knorr, who has played a very strong tournament so far. Does it already appear against previous opponents, who all fell into the “mandatory task” category except for Serbia, that Knorr is the difference player in the central backcourt that he has coveted for many years ?

I’m not a fan of erecting monuments only to see them crumble later. It’s doing great so far, but you need to keep giving it development time. It’s true, we haven’t had a classic world-class playmaker since Markus Baur, who led Germany to the 2007 World Cup. medium, but I deliberately don’t want to get carried away by taking a big leap.

The tournament drama is painted for the DHB team, you can slowly grow with the tasks, the pieces are yet to come: Are there any hints that suggest how this team will perform in the all or nothing situations that are now imminent?

You have rarely had such a favorable draw, it’s true. With the exception of Serbia, there weren’t many, the Netherlands must also be doable. The team can still grow in this tournament. But what is very important to say: she solved every task perfectly. It is almost impossible to do better. As a result, it has always been possible to dose deployment times earlier and save energy. It makes me very confident.

National coach Alfred Gislason said after Argentina’s thrashing (39:19) that a race like the one we are currently experiencing makes a lot of things easier. Based on your long experience as a coach, can you clarify what he meant by that?

You build success. And success brings security. You can see that what you worked for is working. And success tastes sweet, you just don’t want the taste to come out of your mouth. Due to the obvious successes, working systems could be developed without completely exhausting themselves. Energy conservation is an important factor in a long and tight tournament. The team is on the right track. Hopefully, we’ll see if they make the leap into development over the next two games to win a possible quarter-final against big teams like Spain or France.

With Kai Häfner, Jannik Kohlbacher, Rune Dahmke, Simon Ernst and Andreas Wolff, these are five players who surprisingly became European champions in Poland in 2016. Can the memory of success also be a factor of success?

Certainly. Knowing that you have already achieved something great here does something to you during the tournament, at least for the players who were there at the time. I remember having a coffee with Andi Wolff before the 2016 final. One of my best experiences. Andi was so focused, so clear, so confident.

Germany won 24:17 against the big favorites Spain, Wolff held incredibly.

It was already clear as day by early afternoon that he would put on that fantastic performance against the Spaniards in the evening. The final has already been decided while drinking a coffee. Those who were there will surely remember it. And everyone else would do well to develop that feeling as well. And I think they do too. Nevertheless, it is of course a long way to achieve something extraordinary. And in 2016, it must be said, we had this bit of luck, of course.

The German team had previously beaten Sweden and Russia by one goal in the preliminary and main rounds, and Denmark by two goals in the main round decider. In the semi-finals, there was a victory after extra time after Rune Dahmke managed to equalize seconds before the end of regulation time. In the end, the DHB team was incredibly efficient and had strong nerves in this tournament. That quality was then lost, and many won’t forget the 2020 European Championship main round game against Croatia.

Yes, incredibly bitter.

For a long time the German side played like they were unleashed, sometimes leading by five goals, progress was at hand. In the end, you lost 24:25. Can’t such negative experiences be found in a team’s DNA?

no The team has already been through several upheavals, there is a new flow. I see the team as carefree as in 2016, even if there are experienced players. But again: to be able to think about things like back then, we are still a long way from that.

People have been very reluctant to publicly set goals. Was it correct and what do the internal goals really look like?

I’m more a friend of formulating big goals. But I understand 100% the association that they did not want to impose on this team the pressure of big goals. As DHB president Andreas Michelmann said the quarter-finals were mandatory. As president of the biggest handball association in the world, you are not allowed to say anything else. Germany must always play for medals in the long term. In the current situation, after difficult years in which it was incredibly difficult to put together this team, the way they did it is absolutely correct.

This is a recurring subject in German handball, which surprises the European competition and annoys the national coach: before each tournament, important players cancel their participation for various reasons. Longtime defense chief Hendrik Pekeler is on hiatus, 2016 European champion Fabian Wiede is getting married and undergoing jaw surgery. Above all, the cancellation of Wiede was openly questioned, including by the team. Although Gislason has said he will keep the door open for these players as well, is there really a way to get back into the squad despite the players’ formidable qualities?

I think this discussion is not appropriate. We are in the middle of a big tournament and we still have a lot to do. An incredibly important process for German handball is also underway at the moment. The focus should be exclusively on the players who are there. Everything else will be clarified after the World Cup, also and especially in view of the European Championship at home next year. But of course one thing is clear: the national coach will of course only change something if he deems it necessary. But the team gives no reason for this at this time.

When will this World Cup be a success for the German team, also in view of the European Championships at home next year, which are important for the association in terms of sport and economy?

A measurable and perceptible optimism is resurfacing, which is already a success. On a sporting level, the quarter-finals are the minimum objective, it’s a must. And it is clear to everyone. We’re on the right track in this World Cup and I’m not ready to think about what’s next for the moment.

World champion Christian Schwarzer, historically not a friend of yours, made a controversial statement to the media last week: According to Schwarzer, female referees should referee women’s matches. But there was a strong headwind, also from the German national players. Do such incidents help handball to be perceived by the public?

You know, during my time at DHB, I often had to deal with things that Christian was saying. Thank God I don’t have to and I won’t.

You denounced the way the DFB presented itself at the World Cup, in terms of sport and public image. Heretic to ask: Isn’t handball much easier than football because it simply lacks the drop height?

A very clear yes! Again: I’m a huge football fan, including the national team. But I don’t like associative public relations to come before sports issues. Officials in Qatar simply did not act well in difficult times. The big ball sports – I see us as a unit – they did them no favors.

After Egypt 2021, we are currently experiencing the second World Cup with 32 teams. Do you think the increase worked?

We can argue about that. This is questionable for purely logistical reasons, since hardly any country today would be able to organize a world handball championship on its own. We also see by the quality of the individual teams that their participation is difficult to justify from a sporting point of view. The other side of the coin is that we have to develop the sport. If you want to be safe and secure at the Olympics in the long run, handball doesn’t have to remain a purely European affair forever. This is one of the reasons why I am incredibly happy with the success of the Egyptians, who won their preliminary round group and are now on the verge of reaching the quarter-finals. It’s good for handball.

Until Erdenberger talked to Bob Hanning

#Hanning #DFB #handball #favors

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