Five national handball players tested positive for Corona

Dhe Corona shock overtook the German handball players not even 24 hours before the European Championship group final against Poland. Five other players tested positive for the corona virus on Monday and had to immediately go into isolation at the team hotel in Bratislava. National coach Alfred Gislason is initially only a core squad of eleven healthy players for the game this Tuesday (6 p.m. / ZDF) available.

Goalkeeper Andreas Wolff, backcourt players Kai Häfner and Luca Witzke and outsiders Timo Kastening and Lukas Mertens are affected. After Julius Kühn and his substitute Hendrik Wagner had previously contracted the corona virus, a total of seven German players were absent from the finals in Hungary and Slovakia.

“If you are positive, then you are positive. You can’t change that,” the now affected Kastening said on Sunday evening after the 34:29 against Austria. “You can only hope for a mild course, I wish that to everyone. But it doesn’t stop there – especially when you decide to take part in a major tournament. You can’t reduce the contacts to zero.”

Former DHB captain Uwe Gensheimer spoke of a worst-case scenario on Monday evening. “I’m incredibly sorry for the team, the staff, for everyone around it, because I know that an incredible amount of effort was put into it. It’s definitely a shock for everyone that this is happening now,” said the left winger from the Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

The German Handball Federation had taken all possible precautions to rule out this horror scenario. Two floors were blocked off in the hotel for the players and single rooms were booked. “We have adhered to all safety requirements,” said captain Johannes Golla, adding: “It’s shocking that the virus still got in. But we were prepared for it to happen to us as well.”

The association was in crisis mode on Monday evening and was working flat out on possible subsequent nominations that Gislason can also make outside of a pool of 35 players reported at the beginning of December. But time is short. The possible substitutes must first complete a PCR test after arriving at the venue and can only intervene once the results are available.

A few hours before the bad news, Wagner’s corona case had already become known, which had only arrived in Bratislava on Sunday and was actually supposed to replace Kühn, who was already in quarantine. The second division professional from Eulen Ludwigshafen had no contact with his teammates or the rest of the German delegation, the DHB said. “I no longer understand the world,” said Wagner. “I’m physically fine at the moment, but the last few hours have been an emotional rollercoaster ride.”

German team greatly weakened

All players who tested positive and complained of little to no symptoms must now remain in quarantine for at least five days according to the tournament rules. Only then could they freely test themselves with two negative PCR tests on two consecutive days.

For the German team, the massive loss of personnel naturally means a considerable sporting weakening. In the duel with the also undefeated Poles, who had also recorded several corona cases in their team in the run-up to the finals in Hungary and Slovakia, important points for the main round are at stake. A Herculean task for the DHB selection, which started the tournament promisingly with two wins against Belarus and Austria. “The points that will be awarded tomorrow are also decisive for the ranking in the main round,” said DHB sports director Axel Kromer on Monday morning.

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Goalkeeper Till Klimpke, who drew attention to himself with his gala performance against Austria in front of an audience of millions on television, could now play an important role. “I made many, many phone calls home last night. There were a lot of congratulations,” reported the professional from Bundesliga club HSG Wetzlar.

And many viewers ask themselves: Who is this Klimpke? “He’s open, honest and helpful,” said veteran Patrick Wiencek, characterizing the newcomer to the European Championship, adding: “Till is very special – goalkeepers are like that.” Klimpke describes himself as follows: “Off the field, I’m very calm. But in the dressing room, I’m someone who tries to push the team and I’m also a little crazy.” That’s particularly important now.




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