Nicolas Nieto, hub of handball in Limoges, before hosting Montpellier: “You have to live in handball”

You will eventually find your audience at Beaublanc. Are you feeling impatient or pressured to do well?

Anything. The second part of our season has started, we just won the French Cup in Tremblay (36-31) and then in the league in Nancy (29-27). I think this first away game liberated us. Now, finding our audience at Beaublanc can only be happiness and more. We were in a hurry, especially since there are no limited specs. So really willing to give everything.

Did your victory in Nancy make you start on the right foot?

Yes. This game, everyone gave a little pressure. The pressure to perform well to show that we are still fighting for the top spot in the second half of the season. As I said, we are more free now.

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“The key word will be regularity and desire”

The first part of the season was complicated. Did she leave you any regrets?

We changed coaches, players came, everyone else went, we had to integrate everyone…it was not easy and it affected the morale of the team. Our first game was kind of like all those changes, we probably paid less attention to handball and more to everything that was going on around it.

What do you expect from the champions in the second half? How and how should your team improve?

We have personal qualities, which means, on paper, we are rich. The atmosphere is great and everyone in the dressing room is getting along very well. There is no doubt that we are moving forward and things are going well in the second half of the season. All games are important and no one should be taken lightly. The key words will be regularity and desire.

What has he brought since the appointment of Rastko Stefanovic to replace Tarik Hayatoune in November?

It’s a different way of working. I can’t say what he brought more or less. We listened to his advice, just as Tariq gave us. But no more or less. Every coach has his own method. Tariq has his strengths, and Rastko has his knowledge.

What else is there to benefit from the arrival of guard Matej Hrstic and center Alexander Morsten?

Matej is well integrated. The presence of Dragan (Gajic), Jure (Dolenec) or Igor (Zabic) also helped him a lot. In the game, both defensively and offensively, he is very consistent. He’s a player who shows he really wants to play and loves handball. Regarding Alexander, he just arrived, we made sure in training that he learns as many triggers as possible, he’s comfortable in defense. Nancy’s situation is not bad, and will be better.

‘My season is half-hearted for now’

Personally, how do you judge your season?

Use halftones for now. I’m not necessarily happy with being able to bring what I can to the team. I really want to bounce back for the second part of the season. It goes through hard work, longing, watching the game and figuring out who’s up front as opponents… it’s handball alive. This is the work I will put in upstream that will allow me to help the team as much as possible. Either through my defensive experience or my reading of the offensive game. The hub is a bit of a thankless position, we serve the team, and we play a role that is responsible for hitting the ball to make time for everyone else.

As a former Nimes, is there anything special about facing Montpellier?

(smiles) I don’t know. I played against Montpellier with Dunkirk and then Nimes. This is a top team and still going strong.

What will achievement go through?

As I said, by looking at the opponent in front of us, understanding how the player we’re facing does things, his interlocks, where he’s good at shooting…it’s video, technique, live handball. You have to live handball. If you manage to understand what the opposing team wants to do, that’s already a plus.

Xavier George

Twitter: @Xavier_Georges

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