Sigurdsson to lead Germany in Doha

Dagur Sigurdsson has been named the new head coach of the German national team, the country’s handball federation DHB announced on Tuesday (12 August). Sigurdsson, a 2004 Olympian for his native Iceland, will lead the German squad at the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship – Qatar 2015.

“It’s a big, big honour to feel this trust of the federation and the league and begin this highly responsible position,” Sigurdsson, 42, said during the announcement in Leipzig, Germany.

“I am convinced by the potential, the perspective and the chances of development of this team. To compete in Doha will be a huge challenge for all of us.”

Sigurdsson is currently the coach of German Bundesliga team Füchse Berlin and will act in a double role until the end of this season in June 2015. The club will then release the former Icelandic international from his contract which was originally set to expire in 2017.

Sigurdsson succeeds Martin Heuberger, who was the national team coach from 2011 to June 2014. His contract was not extended after Germany lost to Poland in the World Championship play-offs.

But fortunes changed for the 1938, 1978 and 2007 world champions when the International Handball Federation awarded them with a wild card for Qatar 2015 as the best ranked team from the 2013 World Championship which missed qualification for Doha. In Qatar, Germany will face Denmark, Russia, Poland, Argentina and Bahrain in the group phase.

Sigurdsson said that Heuberger will not be held on in an assistant’s role. “We are searching for the right candidate, who will bring fresh blood to the team,” he said.

Sigurdsson is the third non-German born national team coach after Yugoslav Vlado Stenzel (1974-1982) and Romanian Petre Ivanescu (1987-1989). His contract with DHB is valid until 2017 with the option of an extension through the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Sigurdsson knows how to work in a double coaching role. He was the coach of Füchse Berlin and the Austrian national team in 2009-2010 when he lead the Austrians to their biggest international success, a ninth place showing at the EHF EURO on home ground — and a higher finish than that of Germany.

“To search and to find the perfect man for this job was anything but easy, as we wanted to have the optimal long-term solution,” said Bernhard Bauer, President of the German Handball Federation. “It is our clear vision to fight for the gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games and to return among the globally best teams in Doha. His experience as a player and a coach was the reason for signing Dagur Sigurdsson.”

Former centre back Sigurdsson played 217 international matches for Iceland. At the club level his first international club was Wuppertal (Germany), before he left to Japan. He returned to Europe, becoming a player-coach and then coach of former Austrian champions Bregenz in 2003. In 2008 and 2009 he was manager and director of his former Icelandic club Valur Reykjavik before joining the Austrian Federation and Füchse Berlin.

In their first season in EHF European Cup competitions, Sigurdsson led the “Foxes” straight to the 2012 edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4. In 2014 Füchse were semi-finalists when hosting the EHF Cup Finals and also won the German Cup.

His first matches on the bench of the German team will be two tests against Switzerland in September, followed by the first “official” matches, the EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers against Finland (30 October in Gummersbach) and against his former team Austria (2 November in Vienna).