Reigning European runners-up France approach the 2022 edition with less than two years to go before the Paris Games despite a rejuvenated workforce eager to reclaim their place at the top of the Old Continent.
Shine now, or risk sacrificing the present and prepare for the future. This is often a painful dilemma faced by coaches in all countries and all disciplines. Knowing when to turn the page is never easy. When to pass from one generation to another. Sometimes this happens naturally, between some retiring, some getting injured, and a talented youngster emerging with long teeth and already being recognized. But this is not always the case. Above all, it is regularly accompanied by a period of uncertainty within the selection, and the quality of the results is more uncertain.
The dilemma is even more difficult to navigate with the home Olympics coming up in less than two years, with French handball in Tokyo in 2021 having won both the men’s and women’s double titles in particular. The first step towards 2024 will be on the Skopje side for the blues with the Euros (November 4-20) co-hosted by North Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia. A great first in the competition, but also a great last after the next edition, which will take place with 24 participants and now only 16. The continental competition where Estelle Nze Minko and her teammates intend to maintain their position. They remain on three consecutive European podiums: bronze in 2016, gold in 2018 and silver in 2020. What they lost to Norway (22-29) in the world finals a year ago is only ‘to trust’. With no guarantee of success.
No one is already unaware of the difficulty of the Euros, where, unlike the World Cup or the Olympics, no team plays a scapegoat on the altar of balanced, if not universal, representation. Coach Olivier Krumbholz then faces the task of significantly revamping his workforce with six newcomers heading to Skopje in this competition: goalkeepers Floriane Andre and Camille Sinyet, defenders Audrey Dembele, Lena Granveau and Deborah Lassource. also turning Oriane Ondono. So, inevitably, the lack of experience that Nze Minko, Cleopatra Darleux, Grace Zaadi or even Beatrice Edwige will try to compensate for. But somehow, this Euro therefore constitutes the perfect laboratory to test and toughen this youth with the goal of reaching maturity in the summer of 2024. Even, obviously, the Blue woman will not introduce such a species.
We shouldn’t put the cart before the horse, we’re never safe from anything and there’s really no point in wanting to go too fast.
Like Pauletta Foppa, who at 21 wants to take everything without waiting. “I’m more of a step-by-step type, I don’t see anything beyond this European Championship and I intend to give my best to at least climb into the last four.“, pivoted to the Federation’s website.”After that, I intend to concentrate on my club to get my head up and back in the direction of travel. We will have plenty of time to look forward to the 2023-24 season and the Olympic Games next summer. We shouldn’t put the cart before the horse, we’re never safe from anything and there’s really no point in wanting to go too fast.»
A powerful but affordable group
To go far, France’s handball players must not miss the start this Saturday (18:00) against North Macedonia, who have played in only one major international competition since the early 2010s, Euro 2012 in the anonymous round of 12. place. But the Macedonians will keep the popular fervor of the Skopje pot on their side to hope to build courage. The blues will then face Romania (October 7, 20:30) Cristina Neagu, the top scorer in Euro history, is back in action at the age of 33 after a break. Before ending with the Netherlands, world champions in 2019, but now rebuilding. Three tough opponents, but none of the ogres. Provided they finish in the top three, France will likely face the Germans, Spaniards and Poles in the main round, whom they beat twice (33-26, then 30-19) in preparation. A sign that it can shine now instead of waiting until 2024…