Les Bleues looking for qualifications

French handball players return to action three months after World Cup final defeat: Les Bleues continues Euro 2022 qualification with Croatia on Thursday in Koprivnica (6:00pm), then Sunday in Toulouse (5.30pm) ).

Les Bleues started their campaign in October and have won against the Czech Republic (38-22) and Ukraine (28-25) to top the group stage if a double victory against the bronze medalist when they can secure their qualification to Euro 2020.

“We are all very happy to meet again. We had a great week together with the possibility of qualifying for the European Cup,” said centre-back Estelle Nze Minko, 30, who is a team with the winner One of the most experienced players on a very similar team. At Mondial – 2021 at Granollers, seventh podium finish in last eight internationals.

Of course, head coach Olivier Krumbholz wants to test new things: “There is always an experiment, and young players are called up”. But “No matter what happens, we will always do our best.

16 of the 20 finalists from Granollers (Spain) were recalled. Allison Pineau, Catherine Gabriel, Laura Flippes and Paulette Foppa (injured) are missing. When they returned, Orlane Ahanda and Kalidiatou Niakaté were wounded and replaced by centerpieces Sarah Bouktit and Oriane Ondono.

“Fierce competition”

The changes are part of a “new cycle” expected to host the Olympics in the country in 2024. Everyone is so excited about the 2024 Olympics. It will be a tough competition and we will arbitrate with joy and pleasure,” Krumbholz said happily.

Goalkeeper Cléopâtre Darleux also projects himself and believes “preparations are global”. “We thought long-term about the Olympics, with specific lines of work and areas for improvement,” she continued.

Still, the goal of the rally is the success of this double confrontation with Croatia, as pointed out by centre-back Grace Zaadi: “We know the deadline is coming and we have big ambitions. But we will not be Think about it in the morning, noon and evening. »

“We want first of all to win both games in style, to secure qualification and to help these young players integrate in the best possible way, relying on their quality”, Zaadi continued.

Olivier Krumbholz assured him that the two meetings should not be taken lightly. “These are two big races for us. We want to get out of this pool so we can approach April (final qualifying session, editor’s note) calmly.”

“We know it won’t be easy. The Croats played well and will definitely have a bit of revenge for the Euro 2020 semi-finals, where they were mistreated (30-19 win, editor’s note)”, he concluded.

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