BERLIN, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- The head coach of the unified Korean men's handball team has praised his players for showing their fighting spirit even though they suffered a defeat in its historic world championship debut.
Korea fell to world No. 1 Germany 30-19 at the International Handball Federation (IHF) World Men's Handball Championship at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin on Thursday. This was the first international appearance by a joint Korean handball team, men's or women's.
"Honestly, there was a lot of pressure for us to play against the world's top team Germany in the opening match," said Cho Young-shin, a South Korean head coach who leads the Korean squad at the worlds. "But I told the players that we should give a meaningful performance to the crowd here with our joint effort."
The Koreas agreed to combine their men's handball teams at a meeting of sports administrators on Nov. 2 last year. The unified team of 16 South Koreans and four North Koreans, began training together in Berlin on Dec. 22.
"We had a short period of time to build our teamwork, but we tried our best," he said. "Even though we were the underdogs, our players weren't intimidated by the opponents, and I want to praise our players for that."
Korea is in Group A with Germany, Russia (world No. 4), France (No. 5), Serbia (No. 6) and Brazil (No. 27). Cho's side will next face Russia at the same venue Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. in Seoul).
"We don't have tall players, but we'll maximize the pace of our players and will display organized moves in the next match," he said.
Team captain Jung Su-young from South Korea said the players earned good experience.
"Although we dropped our opening match, we will work hard to play better in the remaining games at the tournament."
Tough road ahead for Seoul in joint Olympic bid with N. Korea
Roster controversy deprives Korea of first full-time baseball team manager
S. Korea's Team Kim curlers claim unfair treatment by coaches
Football player forced to end int'l career after misconduct
S. Korea to start 2022 World Cup quest with Paulo Bento