A.ndreas Wolff is looking for answers. The number one German handball player strolled through the elegant team hotel in Cairo on Friday, full of disappointment with the previous World Cup. Anyone who knows the ambitious goalkeeper even a little, could have guessed how much the 28:32 defeat against European champions Spain hit him. Not only because the chance of reaching the quarter-finals at the tournament in Egypt is now minimal. But also because the 29-year-old has not yet been able to access his undisputed class. He’s racking his brains over why.
“That annoys me a lot. I’m really, really pissed off and deeply disappointed, ”he said. In the third preliminary round game against Hungary (28:29) Wolff was unable to help his team and only fended off two of 15 throws. It didn’t get much better against the Spaniards. After Wolff had only parried 22 percent of the throws, national coach Alfred Gislason took him out before the break and replaced him with Johannes Bitter. “The frustration is just huge, especially in connection with the Hungary game. I don’t really know what to do with my energy, ”said Wolff.
Wolff was actually intended to play a major role in the newly formed German team as Gislason’s 1a solution between the posts. Now it looks like he could be one of the big losers alongside the once again disappointing captain Uwe Gensheimer. It would not be a big surprise if the EM hero from 2016 only sits on the bench this Saturday against Brazil (8.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Handball World Cup and on ZDF). Wolff even thought it was not impossible on Friday that Gislason could take him out completely and replace him with Silvio Heinevetter.
Wolff seemed ready for great World Cup feats. But a lot went wrong during the preparation. First of all, the opinionated professional caused unrest in the DHB camp with public criticism of the voluntary waiver of the World Cup by his former Kiel teammates Hendrik Pekeler, Patrick Wiencek and Steffen Weinhold. With regard to the Olympic qualification in March, the exciting question arises whether the debate could lead to a rift in the German team. Because Gislason is firmly planning the return of the THW trio.
However, Gislason usually cannot avoid a Wolff in top form. The only question is why he is not realizing his potential. “Maybe it’s all a combination of this shitty situation,” he suspects, referring primarily to his two-month break from competitive games due to the corona pandemic. Perhaps that is why “that ounce of madness, that ounce of responsiveness” is missing.
The tournament in Egypt is not over yet. Maybe the DHB selection will even create a sensation if Wolff finds his way back to his form. If Gislason lets him. Because since the European Championship triumph five years ago, Wolff has not been able to constantly call up his great potential at world and European championships. Is it because of the enormous pressure he’s putting on himself? He seeks the answer himself.