Barring any unpleasant surprises, the French women’s handball team will appear in the last four of the World Championship. “The hierarchy is well established: Norway, Denmark, France and the Netherlands should be in the semi-finals even if often a surprise nation, which this time could be Germany, invites itself there,” anticipates Amélie Goudjo, the former international and consultant for BeIN Sports.
Played for the first time in three countries – Norway, Sweden and Denmark – the World Cup began on November 29 and the final is scheduled for December 17. Les Bleues launch their campaign this Thursday (8:30 p.m., beIN Sports) against Angola in Stavanger in the south of Norway before challenging Iceland, then Slovenia in the preliminary round. “A successful World Cup is a World Cup where we come back with a medal,” assures captain Estelle Nze Minko.
“The Games are still far away”
That’s to set the scene. But no one forgets what is coming in 8 months: the Olympic Games in Paris for the first phase and Villeneuve-d’Ascq for the main round. To choose, the whole of France prefers to see the Blue keep their Olympic gold medal rather than bring home a world title after which they have been chasing since 2017. Except that it doesn’t work like that.
Firstly, one does not prevent the other and above all, there is no choice to make. “We must clearly distinguish between the two,” insists center half Méline Nocandy. There, we’re talking about a World Championship, it’s too important. We all want to win it! Nobody looks anywhere else. The Games are still far away. I absolutely don’t want to think about it. For what ? None of us has a promise to do them. You can get injured, not be selected: anything can happen. We are therefore focused on the World Cup. Nothing else matters, not even the Games. »
“If we get a good result, we will gain confidence”
Olivier Krumbholz, the coach of 508 matches and 12 World Cups, agrees and adds. “The final moment of the Olympics cannot give us an excuse not to perform well at this World Cup,” he warns. If we have a good result there, we will gain confidence. If it is not good, it will be a very strong alert which will require us to make great efforts to be ready this summer. » Benchmarking in particular against Norway, the number 1 nation and as much a favorite at the World Cup as at the Olympics, is one of France’s roadmaps during this Scandinavian journey.
“The staff will try things to get answers between now and the Games. It is especially for him that the sequence is complicated, notes Estelle Nze Minko. Our job as players is simpler: perform so that we only think about winning when we enter the field without thinking about anything else. Believe me, if we want to win at the Games, the best way is to succeed at this World Cup. »
For many other delegations, there is another major issue than the planetary coronation which makes this World Cup essential. Norway, France, Angola, Brazil and South Korea are qualified for the Games. There are 7 places left to take. To put it simply, this World Cup offers a “golden ticket”, a direct ticket to Paris 2024, to the world champion or to the finalist if Norwegian or French women are also. It also issues tickets for the next TQOs. This is the other competition within the tournament: whoever goes to the quarter-finals will have a chance to see Paris. And this fight will not make the task of the Bleues easier.
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