As the Austrian Handball Federation (ÖHB) announced about two hours before the start of the World Cup, after team boss Herbert Müller with captain Petra Blazek, Sonja Frey, Stefanie Kaiser and Nina Neidhart, four players tested positive for the corona virus and fell for the first World Cup appearance of an Austrian national handball team for twelve years. It was decided, with the approval of the world federation, to play with twelve instead of 16 players, and the major tournament against the Asian World Cup stranger opened without too much coordination problems.
After a balanced and scoring initial phase (6: 6), Red-White-Red got better and better. Goalkeeper Lena Ivancok provided the necessary support with important saves, and the front was shone with efficiency. At 10:13 p.m. it went into the cabin for an online “call” with Herbert Müller, who a little later also announced his half-time coach analysis on ORF. “I’m absolutely thrilled. The team does an excellent job and plays for everyone who can’t be there, ”said Müller. He was represented by his brother Helfried Müller, who sat on the bench with sports director Patrick Fölser.
Handball World Cup women: Austria defeats China
At the handball world championship, Austria’s women clearly won 38:27 against China despite CoV-related failures.
Backcourt player Katarina Pandza (19), who was unimpressed by the CoV quarrels of the past few days, made a major contribution to the successful start. The German legionnaire was initially traded as a suspected case, but was allowed to travel in good time after two negative PCR tests. With nine goals she made an excellent appearance in the tournament. Although the Chinese women, who were difficult to assess in advance due to the lack of video material, defended themselves bravely thanks to the longer bench, Pandza and Mirela Dedic (8 goals) kept their throwing rates consistently high. Anna Hajgato also excelled as a seven-meter “killer”.
Cancellation was never an option
According to the association, a non-appearance was never up for debate despite the CoV shock immediately before kick-off. “Everyone in the team worked towards this goal for years. The players have fought and deserved to compete in the World Cup. The team will continue to fight and give everything, ”said ÖHB President Plazer before the game. A cancellation was also out of the question for sports director Fölser. “Telling those players who tested positive that they can’t play was the toughest thing I’ve had to do so far from a sporting point of view. The team will do everything they can to win the first World Cup game in twelve years. “
Even before leaving for the World Cup after games, the Austrians were hit by a CoV wave. Team boss Müller, for example, tested positive for the corona virus and was not present at the opening game against China. In addition, there were two other suspected cases, trainer assistant Erwin Gierlinger and 19-year-old Pandza, who went into voluntary quarantine as a precaution.
Team boss Müller was represented in the first group game by his brother and junior team coach Helfried Müller. In addition to the Chinese, the Austrians in Group H will also meet Argentina on Saturday and the hosts from Spain on December 6th. From the eight groups of four in the preliminary round, the three best teams advance to the main round. With the win against China, the Austrians took the first step there.
Voices for the game:
Helfried Müller (ÖHB-Coach): “I’m just proud. One can only be proud of the character of these girls. Tears came to me when I saw the girls who weren’t allowed to take part. The team thanked them, this victory is only for them. “
Patricia Kovacs (ÖHB player): “We are right, really relieved. Everyone on the team cried when the news came. We knew how much our four wanted this World Cup. “
Handball World Cup 2021 in Spain
Austria – China 38:27 (22:13)
Best throwers: Pandza (9), Dedic (8), I. Ivancok (6) and Zhang Haixia (8)
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Handball World Cup: ÖHB women celebrate victory after CoV shock