Germany has defeated Macedonia to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Handball Championship, which is being held in Spain. Few pundits had expected the young German team to make it this far.
The German national handball team turned in another convincing performance to defeat Macedonia 28-23 in their round-of-16 match played in Barcelona on Sunday.
"I am really relieved and proud of this team," national team head coach Martin Heuberger told reporters following the victory. "The best thing was that the team kept its cool."
Goalkeeper Silvio Heinevetter, who helped secure Germany's win with several key saves, said a strong team effort was the key to the national team's success.
"We don't have any superstars, but a really great group," Heinevetter, who was named man of the match, told reporters just seconds after the final whistle. "Now we want to make it to the semifinals."
Germany had gone into the knock-out match as slight favorites, having reached the round of 16 by winning Group A. It also entered the match with a perfect 3-0 record against the south-eastern Europeans in their previous World Championship meetings. Macedonia had finished just fourth in Group B to reach the round of 16.
Despite his delight at reaching the quarterfinals, coach Heuberger warned that his young squad remained a long way from re-establishing Germany among the world's elite in the sport.
"We must not be so careless that we slip into euphoria," Heuberger said. "There is still a long road ahead."
Germany's top scorer on Sunday was Stefan Kneer, with five goals.
The German team will have to wait for the result of Monday's game between the hosts, Spain, and Serbia, who won silver at the last European Championship, to find out who they will face in the quarterfinals.
pfd/ccp (dpa, SID)