Monchengladbach (Germany), Nov 18 (IANS) German hockey association (DHB) has named Valentin Altenburg as the national team’s chief coach till the 2016 Rio Olympics, replacing Markus Wiese, who departed to work for the national football federation (DFB).

“I am happy that we have with Valentin Altenburg found someone on such short notice, enjoying not only our trust, but also the team,” DHB president Wolfgang Hillmann said in a statement on Tuesday.

“No one expects that he fills the role as head coach for the men, but I’m sure that he with this experienced, strong team and the existing of many first class professionals staff finds its own way together, this team optimally develop to Rio.” The 34-year-old Altenburg, former head coach of German hockey’s Under-21 side, will have his first assignment in charge of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champions at the Hockey World League (HWL) Final to be held from November 27 to December 6 in Raipur, India.

The squad will leave on Sunday for the eight-nation year-ending tournament. Altenburg said: “I look forward to work with the boys and the staff. We want to go to the very top. In this way there will be resistance. I’m curious to see how we handle it. The now imminent World League final matches of course perfectly.”

Hamburg-based Altenburg, who last year coached Hockey India League (HIL) outfit Dabang Mumbai, will return as the German Under-21 coach after the Olympics, according to DHB vice-president Britta Becker-Kerner. The U-21 team will defend the World Cup and will also play in the European Championship next year and DHB aims to capture best of talents for the 2020 Olympics.

Altenburg has been working with DHB for the last 10 years and is the federation’s youngest coach. So far Jamilon Mülders, who took over the women’s team at the age of 36, was the youngest. However, it will not be easy for Altenburg to fill the vacuum left by Wiese, under whom Germany won European Championship twice in 2011 and 2015, apart from the silver medal in the 2010 World Cup and the Champions Trophy in 2014.

The 52-year-old Wiese, who also coached the national women’s team to Olympic glory in 2004, was recruited in the previous week by the DFB. He is “Head of Concept Development” of the new DFB Academy.

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