Poland’s 23:37 defeat against Croatia on Wednesday caused a state of shock as the EHF EURO hosts, who were one of the medal favourites ahead of the tournament, lost their chance of playing the semi-finals in Krakow.
On Thursday morning, German-born head coach Michael Biegler announced his immediate resignation. He will coach Poland for the last time in the placement match 7/8 against Sweden on Friday.
“It is always the approach of the hosts at a major tournament to go as far as possible. Our aim was to make it to the semi-final. We failed on the way, and as I am responsible for the team, to resign immediately was a logical consequence,” Biegler said to ehf-euro.com on Thursday.
“Someone new must take over the team, with the goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games.”
Biegler says he made the decision to resign during the final main round match against Croatia in Krakow. “It was not a match that we lost narrowly, but a disaster.”
In 2012, Biegler (54) started his mission at the Polish Handball Federation with the clear focus on the home event in 2016.
“We were successful like at the EHF EURO in Denmark, or even more, with the bronze medal at the 2015 World Championship in Qatar, and I really received great support from the Federation. So I am disappointed how the EURO on home ground went. I feel sorry for the fans.”
In general, Biegler is greatly impressed with the EHF EURO in terms of fans, and the support from the local governments, host cities and the Polish Federation:
“We have full arenas, we have a new spectator record for EURO events, the atmosphere was great, the organisation was simply perfect, the federation did a great job – the whole event was and is a great promotion for handball. But we, as the sporting part of the tournament, failed and did not deliver the results everybody had hoped for.”
Biegler had been coaching the German Bundesliga club HSV Hamburg in parallel with the Poland national team since 2015, but the club announced bankruptcy only this week.
Biegler is not completely jobless however: The International Handball Federation announced on the very day Poland were devastated by Croatia that Biegler will take over a project for handball development in Uganda.