For some time our ears have been inundated with information about potential absences of big icons of handball at the upcoming tournament in my country. Injuries, fights against time, disputes with the coaches or a weak physical form – the reasons were numerous.
Now, with less than a month left until the EHF EURO starts, time has brought us some certainties and in some cases unexpected results.
Momir Ilic & Marko Vujin
I had been hoping that Momir Ilic would appear on court in Krakow, after we had talked about his dilemmas in September. However, his recent injury saw any chance to be in the line-up evaporating into thin air. How big the loss for the Serbian Eagles will be, let the way Ilic behaved in his last VELUX EHF Champions League match tell you.
He broke his wrist in the second minute of the game between Veszprem and PSG, but it didn’t stop him from scoring ten goals and leading his team to victory! I think this one situation says everything about Momo. What an amazing guy!
Quite big a surprise for me was that the Eagles will come to Krakow also without Marko Vujin. Well okay, he might have let down his teammates in the national team sometimes, but he is still one of the best left-handed players in the world, who can threaten the opponents not only with a powerful shot, but simply with his name. However, he didn’t even convince coach Dejan Peric to receive a place in the preliminary 28-men squad for the tournament.
It will be a strange, but exciting experience, to watch Serbia without Ilic and Vujin in the back. Definitely it will be a big opportunity to shine for players such as Petar Nenadic, Zarko Sesum or Nemanja Zelenovic. Fingers crossed for you, guys!
Uwe Gensheimer, Silvio Heinevetter & Patrick Wiencek
What news has hit us last Saturday! Germany’s captain, one of the best wingers in the world (if not the best) is injured and will miss the EHF EURO. I must say emphatically that it’s a big loss not only for our neighbours but also for the whole EHF EURO 2016 spectacle, as nobody’s style can be compared to the brilliant Uwe Gensheimer – he is an extremely fast, extremely subtle and extremely effective clever fox. However, benefitting of the situation might be young Rune Dahmke of THW Kiel, one of the revelations of the current VELUX EHF Champions League, as hw will definitely receive much more time on the court.
It’s not the end of absences though in the German team. As we heard recently, a big goalkeeping icon will not stand between the posts in the Centennial Hall in Wroclaw. Silvio Heinevetter is only Dagur Sigurdsson’s third-choice goalkeeper, the coach places his trust on the duet of Carsten Lichtlein and Andreas Wolff. That will be a big deal, especially for the young Wetzlar goalkeeper Wolff, who will make his debut on the big stage (he was with the team at Qatar 2015 but didn’t play). “Wolff is the best keeper in the Bundesliga this season and Lichtlein simply never plays badly. He is very reliable,” says German journalist Sascha Staat, who runs a weekly handball podcast.
The bigger problem for Germany seems to be lack of Patrick Wiencek who ruptured his knee ligaments in October and therefore misses the EHF EURO 2016. The chance to replace him will receive a very young (he’s even younger than me!) club teammate of Andreas Wolff, Jannik Kohlbacher. I’m sure, not many of you recognise his name yet, but I’m really curious if my German expert will be right while saying that he might be a nice ‘secret weapon’ of the Germans!
As always the biggest news in handball happen in the Balkan nations. Two months ago the coach of Croatia, Zeljko Babic, announced that both Igor Vori and Ivan Cupic would not be a part of the squad in Poland.
As we saw recently Ivan Cupic managed to receive a second chance, Vori however must swallow the bitterness of defeat. What are the reasons of absence of one of the most characteristic line players in European handball? Rumour has it that it is a bit more than only physical conditions.
First of all, Babic wanted to threaten a bit ‘the old guard’ and show them that they are not a fixed part of the Croatian team, but that they are subject of same rules as the others. Predrag Zukina, Croatian journalist and opinion leader, says however that “Vori is not dominative anymore. He was the worst in the World Championship in Qatar and I would make same decision.” Expert adds with a smile “He is not a good old Vori anymore, he is just an old Vori”.
So here there comes a space for the young boys from the Bundesliga: Ilija Brozovic, Kresimir Kozina and Marino Maric – all of them born in the early 1990s. The last one will join the preparations after New Year’s Eve; and as Zukina predicts, for 35-year-old Igor Vori the absence in Poland means probably the end of his appearances in the national team.
Another big name absent comes from France as Jerome Fernandez suffered an adductor muscle and will be out for at least six weeks which will be too too little time to recover for the legend of the French handball. That’s a pity as he always has been a kind of Roger Federer of handball for me with this typical French elegance on the court.
In Onesta’s team we will also not see William Accambray and Mathieu Grebille who are both not included in the preliminary squad. But all in all, I wouldn’t be afraid of any of these absences, as the French team is still based on the Karabatic brothers and Luc Abalo and Daniel Narcisse and Thierry Omeyer and many, many more.
And what is the most important for me: We still don’t have any sure information about Mariusz Jurkiewicz’s shape. He is training with the rest of the boys, but everyone holds back with some final judgment. We know however, that Grzegorz Tkaczyk, who was to be a rescue for Poland if Mariusz didn’t recover in time, is out for half a year due to his shoulder injury.
Well, life is brutal sometimes.
Did I miss someone? Whose absence seems to be the biggest disappointment for you? Comment or let me know by sending mails at blog(at)eurohandball(dot)com.