Without defense against the world class: The completely absurd handball trip of the USA

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Without defense against the world class
The completely absurd handball trip of the USA

The handball world championship starts in Egypt on Wednesday. The tournament is accompanied by concerns about corona infections, shortly before the start of the tournament, plans for a return of spectators are cashed in again. But that is of no use to a handball dwarf: The USA is threatened with a bad preliminary round.

One day before the start of the Handball World Cup in Egypt (January 13th to 31st), the corona virus broke out in the USA team. As national coach Robert Hedin confirmed to the Norwegian newspaper “Aftenposten”, 18 players have Covid-19. He was also infected. “It’s incredibly tough,” said Hedin, adding: “We’re sending twelve players to Egypt on Wednesday, we have no defense. But we have a keeper.”

The US handball players are preparing for the mega tournament on the Nile in Norway. The team nominated before the outbreak also includes seven players active in Germany, but none of them is under contract with a first division club. On Monday there was already a stir about corona cases in the Czech team. According to a report by the Sportschau, more than ten people in the supervisory staff and in the team have been infected with the virus, including head coaches Jan Filip and Daniel Kubes.

How the corona outbreak came about in the handball team in the USA, Hedin could not clearly answer. “We were tested the whole time. On Monday we did a quick test that was negative,” reported the Swede. There is a presumption that a player who came from the USA brought the virus with him. The USA are taking part in a World Cup finals for the first time in 20 years and are considered a blatant outsider.

“Really great atmosphere” with the DHB team

In Group E, the US handball players are scheduled for the first preliminary round match against Austria on Thursday, other opponents are co-favorites Norway and record title holder France. According to the current schedule, the Czech Republic will also play its first game against Sweden on Thursday, and the team will also be opponents of the host Egypt on Saturday. “There are no plans to cancel participation,” said a spokeswoman for the Czech handball association of the sports show.

One thing is already clear: Entering the tournament bubble will be a challenge for both nations. Upon arrival in Egypt, all nations will be tested for Covid-19 according to the protocol. They then go into isolation until the test result is known. Anyone who can show a negative result counts in the “bubble”. Corona tests are then scheduled every two days. The World Cup begins on Wednesday with the opening game between Egypt and Chile. More of the 32 teams will start the tournament on Thursday. A change to the schedule seems to have been no longer ruled out since Tuesday at the latest.

The German team has meanwhile left for Egypt with 20 players and a lot of positive energy. “We can feel the anticipation for the tournament,” said DHB captain Uwe Gensheimer at Düsseldorf airport. After the short but intensive preparation and the two victories against Austria “it is already going to the World Cup with a good feeling”. The atmosphere was “really terrific,” said DHB sports director Axel Kromer: “Thank God, everyone is healthy and has a huge amount of enthusiasm for the tournament. Now it will finally start soon.” The selection of the DHB starts according to the previous plan on Friday against outsiders Uruguay in the tournament. Other opponents in the preliminary round are Cape Verde and Hungary.

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