Markus Gaugisch couldn’t really be happy about the gala goals scored by the German handball players against Ukraine.

With the safe 43:21 (23:11) victory in Heidelberg, the DHB selection eliminated the last theoretical doubts about participation in the European Championships and at the same time gained momentum for the upcoming Olympic qualification, but lost co-captain Alina Grijseels in the process a foot injury.

The backcourt player left the game midway through the first half after contact with an opponent and was immediately taken to hospital for an examination. “Alina’s injury is an absolute downer. That’s exactly what we didn’t want. She was in very good shape. We hope nothing is broken,” said Gaugisch after the final whistle.

DHB team makes group victory perfect

Even before the final double pack against pointless outsiders Israel on Saturday and Sunday, also in Heidelberg, in which Grijseels will be eliminated, the DHB selection has already been confirmed as the winner of qualifying group 2 with 8:0 points. The European Championship finals will take place from November 28th to December 15th in Hungary, Austria and Switzerland.

In front of 1,106 spectators, right winger Meret Ossenkopp was the best thrower with six goals in the duel with the hopeless Ukrainians, who were only able to keep up in the early stages. With a 4-0 run from 5:4 to 9:4 (12th minute), the German team gained a cushion early on, which continued to grow until the break. The national coach was therefore satisfied with his team’s performance. “We approached the task seriously and pushed hard for 60 minutes,” praised Gaugisch.

Mama Eckerle is back in goal

In the second half, goalkeeper Dinah Eckerle made her comeback after her maternity leave. The 28-year-old from Bundesliga club Thüringer HC, who last stood between the posts of the German goal in the World Cup quarter-finals against Spain in December 2021, became a mother for the first time in March 2023. In her first appearance in the DHB jersey in almost 28 months, Eckerle fended off nine throws.

Her teammates were still in the mood to play after the change and continued to extend their lead. “We did well for long stretches,” said co-captain Emily Bölk.

In the end it was a clear success, which provides momentum for the fight for the Olympic ticket. In a four-way tournament with Slovenia, Montenegro and Paraguay, the DHB selection has to come at least second in Neu-Ulm next week in order to be able to take part in the summer games for the first time since 2008.