For twenty years, she won everything: two Olympic titles, five world crowns and three European crowns. But that was in the world before. The France team, which begins its world in Egypt this Thursday against Norway, is now unmasked.
A year after the Euro fiasco (14th), the brutal ousting of the previous coach (Didier Dinart), the arrival of the new one (Guillaume Gille), a year of famine because of the Covid, the absence of the boss Nikola Karabatic, injured, and two mediocre results against Serbia, the Blues question and intrigue.
At the start of a tournament full of uncertainties, imagining that they will recover the world title abandoned in Denmark in 2019 seems utopian: “So you are implying that we have become a lambda team? exclaimed goalkeeper Vincent Gérard. To say that no one is scared anymore is foolishness. We were certainly torn apart in the last competition, but like others. We are in a phase of transition, we are building and moving forward step by step. “
The first is called Norway. Faced with the vice-world champions of former Parisian Sander Sagosen, the French will quickly know what they have in their stomachs. That, nobody really knows yet: “Our course will depend on our ability to get into the matches, warns Philippe Bana, the new president of the federation. In normal times, even after the suffering of last January, reconstruction would have been immediate. It is more complex because of the pandemic. “
“Qualification for the Games will be fundamental”
This health crisis can also be the “luck” of the Blues: the 32 teams of the plateau are subject to the same doubts and uncertainties. This World Cup risks being a big game of mess. “We will not become the best nation in the world overnight,” announces Jérôme Fernandez, the top scorer in the history of the Blues (1463). We have to rebuild little by little. At this World Cup, 7 – 8 teams can fight for the medals. The ambitious and consistent goal would be to qualify for the last four. “
Coming back from the land of the Pharaohs sooner will be considered another failure: “Our generation has accustomed the public to exceptional results,” continues Jérôme Fernandez. But let’s not have a short memory: before winning, we also went through this phase of reconstruction. “
Guillaume Gille, who was a player during this renaissance, finds himself under heavy pressure today. “We can be worried but also consider this funny World Cup as a kind of repetition hoping to come out with more certainties, and reassured, thinks former coach Daniel Costantini. On the other hand, there will not be the shadow of a right to error for the TQO in March. Qualifying for the Games will be absolutely fundamental! “
We will forgive the Blues for not being world champions, but not for missing the Olympics: “When you are the French handball team and start a competition, summarizes Guillaume Gille, it is to mingle with the fight for medals. It is allowed to dream but the principle of reality obliges us to enter this World Cup with a lot of humility. “