The French men’s handball team is heading for Tokyo on a ridgeline that could open their way to the Olympics or push it into the void. The Blues will face Croatia, Tunisia and Portugal in that order during the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (TQO) in Montpellier from Friday 12 March to Sunday 14 March. A sport that French handball players are not used to (the last TQO for the Blues dates back to 2008, when Guillaume Gil was a player). Japan (July 23-August 8) distributed only two sesame seeds. A year after the humiliation of the European Championship, the Blues failed to make it through the first round, a defeat that will plunge French handball into a crisis of unprecedented depth.
corn “rekindled the flame”, Want to believe Philippe Bana, president of the French Federation of Handball (FFHB), who says he is “Confidence in the future” his movement. The Blues have done better. A month and a half ago, they responded to criticism by inviting themselves to the semi-finals of the World Championships in Egypt. “The clock has been set according to the team’s level of play”against the Marseille leader.
Still in recovery, Guillaume Gille’s squad lacked collective solidarity, individual talent, but above all physical toughness to win the bronze medal. The coach agrees: “We were able to dominate a very big country, we turned the madness around, but the last two games of the World Cup left it feeling unfinished, a bit bitter.”his postmortem analysis today, warned from the outset “The week leading up to TQO didn’t settle everything” :
“We have too few hours to open a new website. »
Drôme has resumed the players have been tested at the pace of play at their respective clubs, and as in the Champions League, the game is going well. The head coach still needs to leave Parisian Elohim Prandi, who injured his left ankle in early March, has missed the World Cup with shoulder pain and is still without Nikola Karabatic (knee), The master plays the blues.
However, Guillaume Gille can count on the return of Luka Karabatic and Timothey N’Guessan – injured during the tournament in Egypt – will Relying more or less on a group of about 20 players, with him on the banks of the Nile, where the carriages are drawn, “Some people scored”.
However, at the Arena de France in Montpellier, TQO favourites the Blues will have to focus on the pride of the injured animal.The defending European vice-champion Croatia was just a shadow during the World Cup, and was humiliated by Argentina in the main round (23-19 loss); Tunisia, the stronghold of African handball, finished with an unnamed 25and place, worst result in history; as for the Portuguese, who have recently lost a loved one to the death of goalkeeper Alfredo Quintana, they have been in Egypt (32-23) who have been treated regularly over the past few months They will take their revenge after being outwitted by the Blues’ handball lesson. “It will be three days of war”Warning Captain Michaël Guigou.
“In these four-player tournaments, there’s a bit of a crazy formula [trois matchs en trois jours], People with favorite tags rarely stand out with titles », added Guillaume Gill. Philippe Bana agrees and recalls the dangers posed by the team “Excessive” Qualifying for the Olympics— “The Ultimate Holy Grail” For all countries – and more importantly, the empty spectator seats behind the Blues due to the health crisis.
“The period of Covid and behind closed doors tend to balance value”, the French handball boss added that he was wary of any over-optimism ahead of the match.Even if he doesn’t feel the fear or the pain of defeat within the French bloc, it’s just “The Pressure of the Obligation of Results”. ‘We know what Olympic ideal handball means’assured Barna.
“Ambition does not stop humility”
Getting a ticket to Tokyo will validate the “reconstruction operation” Guillaume Gill has undertaken since taking over from Didier Dinart a year ago. Due to Covid-19, it will take a year to lead the team to its first official match against Serbia in early January. A year of cancelling internships, making and canceling programs, hoping to make their mark on the team, is also filled with skepticism and, at times, discouragement.
‘I knew I was resilient and the crisis pushed me to the last stronghold’, Guillaume Gille quipped. The coach will eventually spend his probationary period in Egypt, where he will leave with the pride of having reintegrated the French team into the world’s elite. But at TQO, the former international knows he has no room for error. Failure to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics would constitute an explosion in French sports.
In 30 years, since Jackson Richardson and his partner won bronze in Barcelona in 1992, the French team – 13 medalists in the last 18 international competitions – has never missed an Olympics, winning gold twice, in 2008 Years and 2012, 2016 Silver Medal.
“The upper floors are fragile, and there is still a long way to go for reconstruction”, During the World Cup in January, he cautiously affirmed Patrice Canaye.The symbolic Montpellier coach then suggested “Full of confidence, but also full of humility”. Guillaume Gille’s own words – “Ambition does not stop humility” —, no one will see him except next summer with an Olympic medal around his neck. Provided you didn’t unscrew the narrow path to Olympus this weekend.