The final three-pack of international matches in the European Championship qualification serves as a welcome warm-up program for Germany’s handball players for the fight for the Paris ticket.

In the games against Ukraine on Thursday and against Israel on Saturday and Sunday, national coach Markus Gaugisch’s team wants to warm up for next week’s Olympic qualification and gain further self-confidence.

Dream of the Olympics

“I’m glad that we don’t have to go into the qualifying tournament from zero to one hundred. We’ve actually completed the European Championship qualification. So we can use these three games to develop ourselves so that we can be in top form next week are,” said Gaugisch and confirmed: “The Olympic elimination is the highlight that we have been looking forward to for a long time.”

From April 11th to 14th, his team in Neu-Ulm will be taking part in the Summer Games for the first time since 2008 in Beijing. To achieve this, at least second place must be achieved in the four-way tournament with Slovenia, Montenegro and outsider Paraguay. “It is clear that we have to deliver on point, especially in the second week, and above all have to be prepared for the two cracking games against Slovenia and Montenegro. We want to deliver our maximum performance in the two games and make the big dream of the Olympics come true do,” said Gaugisch.

European Championship qualification as an overture

Before that, the qualification for the European Championship finals from November 28th to December 15th in Austria, Hungary and Switzerland should be completed with a flawless record. After three wins from three games, the DHB selection confidently leads Group 2 with 6-0 points. “You can expect that we will do everything we can to be successful,” announced Gaugisch before the duels with Ukraine and Israel in Heidelberg.

In order to be prepared for the six-pack of games within ten days, the national coach still has 19 players in his squad after Annika Lott’s short-term absence. “We have to keep an eye on the second week. That gives us the chance to distribute the burden. We don’t want to wear anyone out so that all players can give full throttle in the Olympic qualification,” said the 49-year-old, explaining the unusually large squad. Backcourt player Julia Maidhof confirmed full of anticipation: “We’re all excited about it.”

Main formation is in place

Gaugisch is no longer planning experiments, but there is too much at stake. “A well-rehearsed core has developed. There are players there is no way around them,” said the national coach. Nevertheless, the European Championship qualification is once again a kind of casting for the fight for the Paris ticket and the Olympic Games if the qualification is successful.

“Every player is asked to get the most out of it and show that she can enrich the team in many areas,” said Gaugisch and added: “Only those who give themselves 100 percent will prevail. We have communicated that openly.”