Not much time to think about his average performance against Angola. Two days after its very narrow victory, 30 to 29, the France women's handball team is preparing to face Iceland, this Saturday from 18 pm in Stavanger (Norway).
The reigning Olympic champions will need to do better than Thursday night if they are to secure their place in the next round. "Overall, we didn't play well, that's for sure," Olivier Krumbholz told BeIN Sports after the match. We panicked in attack, the team froze. Mentally, we weren't well. All the credit goes to the players who won anyway."
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The French had a scare at the end of the game, unable to score more despite their numerical superiority. "We have to miss about 15 (shots), if we only make half of them, it makes all the difference. It's up to us to prepare better mentally, perhaps, or to work more in training," explained winger Chloé Valentini.
They want to "show a better face" according to centre-half Grace Zaadi, aware that "to advance (far in the competition) we will have to lose the ball less, score more goals etc." I hope that match after match we will get stronger," added Zaadi, one of the players who went through on Thursday, along with the other centre-half, Méline Nocandy.
France favourite on paper
Both need to get back on track at international level, with Zaadi just back from a two-month absence (plantar fascia), and Nocandy after missing most of last season after rupturing the cruciate ligaments in his left knee. "I feel good even though I'm not at 100% yet. I hope that the more the competition goes on, the more I will be able to get 100%," said Zaadi.
Facing her this Saturday, Valentini and her teammates will face a modest Iceland team, which lost in the first round to Slovenia (30-24) and has never done better than a defeat in the round of 2011 at a World Handball Championship. That was in <>. On paper, France is the favorite but it will have to show more serenity to advance in this competition. According to coach Olivier Krumbholz, Iceland are "as difficult to play against as Angola but in a more classic style, more around a playmaker".
After Iceland, Les Bleues will face Slovenia on Monday 4 December, also in Stavanger. If they beat Iceland on Saturday, they would already qualify for the second round of the World Cup, which will be held this time in Trondheim, Norway.