For Germany, it’s not the best of situations. Saturday’s re-match against Poland in the Qatar 2015 European play-offs is quite simply a “do-or-die” match for the 2007 World champion. Indeed, after failing on their way to the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2014 European Championship the German national team find themselves with their backs against a wall.
But in this exclusive interview with QatarHandball2015.com, head coach Martin Heuberger says he confident that his team will meet the challenge after their narrow 25:24 defeat last weekend in the first leg at Danzig.
Eight thousand fans will be on hand at the sold-out arena in Magdeburg to support their squad on Saturday. If the result will be 25:24 in favour of the Germans, a penalty shoot-out will decide whether the hosts or the Poles will clinch their berth for the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship – Qatar 2015. If they win by at least a two goal difference, the Germans will book their ticket to Doha.
The first leg ended with a 24:25 defeat – a good or a dangerous result?
Martin Heuberger: After the first leg we are the hunters, but we like to play this role. Now it is our mission to prepare perfectly to turn the match around and to qualify for Qatar.
Do you have to calm your players down or is it your job to push them to the limit?
Martin Heuberger: All players are highly focused and give all they can in every training session. Everybody wants to book the ticket to Doha, so I don’t have to push them regarding this common goal.
What are the main tasks in your preparation?
Martin Heuberger: On Sunday and Monday we recovered, Tuesday and Wednesday we trained twice a day with a very high intensity, as physical conditions will be the key to beat Poland on Saturday. From Thursday on we will reduce this intensity to have all the grains we need to be successful.
The play-off may be decided in a penalty shoot-out. Have penalties been a part of your training?
Martin Heuberger: No, as I don’t speculate on an end like this. We want to make it in the regular time of sixty minutes. And if it comes to a penalty shoot-out, you cannot prepare on this pressure in any training session.
Are you currently more a coach or a psychologist?
Martin Heuberger: It is still a coaching job. Despite having many talks with players it is not psychology.
Is there any player in your squad who will have the most responsibility in the situation your team currently finds itself?
Martin Heuberger: No, it is not about individuals, but only about the team. Of course our defence worked well in Poland and we have to count on a strong defensive performance again to be able to score fast break goals. And we have to improve in attack – all players!
Did you already think about what might happen if your team fails, also regarding your personal future?
Martin Heuberger: No, I don’t, as I cannot influence it. I only focus on my tasks, and they are: Qualifying for Qatar 2015. That’s all!