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."