German handball players need three wins in the qualifying round if they want to advance to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. The rivals are Qatar, Serbia and Algeria.
At the start of the World Handball Championship, the DHB team in Kattowitz will face Qatar, Serbia and Algeria in Group E. Three matches of the qualifying round are broadcast live on ARD and ZDF.
bitter memory of Qatar
Cuban handball player Rafael Capote was still young when he took his fate into his own hands. At just 19, he used the 2007 Pan American Games to escape. His journey first took him via Italy to Logrono, Rioja. And Valero Rivera, one of the world’s most famous coaches, discovered him when the Qatar Handball Federation signed him in the spring of 2013.
After being naturalized by the Emirate, Capote became the ghost of German handball. The DHB selection’s big half left hurt twice: in the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals and in the 2017 World Cup round of 16, when the foreigner was victorious against Germany.
Crew full of legionnaires
Capote remains part of Qatar’s selection, currently the first German opponent at the Handball World Championships in Poland and Sweden (Friday, 6pm, live on ZDF/sportstudio.de).
The Rivera team, which surprisingly became vice world champions in Doha in 2015, is still characterized by legionnaires. Frankis Marzo, also born in Cuba and currently active in Kuwait, who did not take part in the final World Cup test, was also naturalized. Circle player Ben Ali is from Tunisia and point guard Mlash is from Syria. But those in charge are proud to integrate the first indigenous Qataris today.
Notable performers like Capote and Frankis are already 35 years old and are definitely well past their prime. However, the team that won the Asian Cup for the fifth time a year ago should be taken very seriously because of the legendary Spanish coach: Rivera is a tactical fox who uses every weak point of the opponent.
Serbia is confident
Serbia, presumed to be the strongest German opponent in the preliminary round (Sunday, 18:00 / ARD), is led by a Spanish coach and is offensive.
However, Antoni Gerona’s team is nominally not as outstanding as its historical predecessor Yugoslavia, the legendary world champion of 1986. In addition to goalkeeper Dejan Milosavljev, who played well in Bundesliga leaders Füchse Berlin, former Bundesliga pros Petar Djordjic and Bogdan Radivojevic also belong to the stars. “I don’t want to declare war,” Radivojevic says, “but anything can happen at the World Cup.”
The winger, who won the Champions League with Flensburg in 2014, dreams of returning to the top of the world: “Our team knows each other well, the time for egoists and individualists is over, we all want success together.” The last Serbian medal at a major event – silver at EM 2012 – is already a bit dusty.
Clearly foreign to Algeria in Group E in Kattowitz, Germany (Tuesday, 6pm, live from ZDF/sportstudio.de), especially as the team finished only fifth in the African Championship. In the final comparison in the Tokyo 2021 Olympic qualifiers, DHB easily won with 34:26 goals.
North Africans primarily rely on legionnaires who make their money in foreign leagues. Emirates shooter Zohir Naim, Fenix Toulouse half-right Abdi Ayoub, goalkeeper Khalifa Ghedbane won the 2019 Champions League with Skopje. Playmaker Moustafa Sadok is chasing a goal for Winterthur (Switzerland).
Corruption hinders healing
Munich-based coach Bob Zermani says the talent pool in his home country is huge. There are around 200,000 handball players in Algeria. However, corruption in the association and league hinders the rise. “We have very good young players,” says Zermani, “but they all suffer from these conditions.”
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