“There is a real opportunity in front of us”

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“There is a real opportunity in front of us”

April 12, 2024

By J. Schuetz


On her 28th birthday, Alina Grijseels,  the co-captain of the German national handball team looks back at the first qualification match against Slovenia and talks about some of adjustments after the IHF World championship in December of last year.

In the past she and her teammates were often plagued by mental challenges once a tournament had reached elimination stage.  Against Slovenia the players showed a different face.

Unlike the DHB men’s team who struggled through the Olympic qualification rounds in Hannover, only a few weeks ago, coach Gaugisch’s squad grabbed their opportunity in the very first match with both hands. From the get go there was no doubt which team would leave the pitch as winners.

Last night it felt like enormous pressure fell off not only your shoulders but the whole team. How did you experience the match against Slovenia on the day after?

AG: “Of course, we were all aware that there is real opportunity in front of us which presents itself only every four years – if you get the chance at all?  We do play on home court in a qualification tournament for the 2024 Olympic games in Paris. Considering these circumstances the pressure was apparent and could be felt.

“I am very proud of how we approached the match and how we executed our game plan from the very first minute. By then some of the pressure had already disappeared.”

For the first time in many years the focus in an important game stayed alive even after the first whistle. What has changed in the team?

AG: “For one, we really wanted to execute our match plan from the very first minute. And, of course, we did analyze our game against Sweden (at the World championship in Denmark 2023 e.d.) and talked about necessary changes and improvements to perform better. Yesterday, all of us – every single player – was hyped up and 1000% focused on the task at hand.

“When we give it all, we are the better team compared to Slovenia. We had to stay concentrated – which we did successfully – and we had a good opening phase. Our self confidence grew – I am very proud of how we conducted the rest of the match.”

How do you spend the rest of your birthday ahead of the important match against Montenegro?

AG: “We will watch videos of our next opponent including tactical preparations, followed by a brief training session to test some plays.  Thereafter it will be all about recovery and get our heads clear and ready for the match tomorrow.”




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