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19.03.2014, 12:00
Familiar faces fight for France
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PREVIEW: Head coach Alain Portes has nominated his team for the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification double-header against Iceland at the end of March
 

Familiar faces fight for France

15 of the 17 women who were part of the French women's national team at the World Championship in Serbia in December 2013 will be again part of the squad that has been nominated for the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification double-header against Iceland on 26 and 29 of March.

A new, but at the same time familiar face is right back Camille Ayglon who returns to the court after her maternity leave.

"I wanted to come back after the birth of my son, and that's also because I have one last big goal in my career: the 2016 Olympics," she explains.

Line player Laurisa Landre (Le Havre) will also be part of coach Alain Portes' team on the trip to Iceland.

The 28-year-old Landre, who was voted best line player in the French league the past season, had already been nominated once by former head Olivier Krumbholz, but is now expected celebrate her debut.

For the remaining spots, Portes opted for players he already worked with since he took over the team last year.

France currently top Group 2 with the maximum of four points from two matches, and another two wins against Iceland will guarantee them an early qualification for the Women's EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary and Croatia in December.

"We chose to stick to a group that's already been playing with each other," Portes says.

"We won't have much time to work (with each other), and it's essential for us to win these two games. If we manage to do so, we'll have opportunities to try new things in the near future.

"Winning these two games against Iceland, a team that we'll take very seriously, would give us confidence, but also would guarantee us a ticket for the EURO."

Julie Goiorani and Dounia Abdourahim who played at the World Championship in Serbia but also Manon Houette, Gervaise Pierson and Blandine Dancette, who just returned to the court after a heel injury, aren't part of the short list.

Left wing Houette, who plays club handball for Fleury, admits that "there are a lot of girls that could pretend to a place in this squad. But it's not a defeat for me, I'll have to work harder to get my chance to come back again."

Claudine Mendy's case

Left back Claudine Mendy, on the other hand, is in a different position. The left-back signed a contract with Issy-Paris Hand in January which has not been approved by the French Federation because of the club's financial situation.

The case will be dealt with by the French National Sports and Olympic Committee soon.

As a consequence, she did not play any single game since her child's birth in November and has not been nominated much to Portes' own disappointment.

"If I could have drafted her, I would have. Everybody is losing in this situation: her, the club and the national team. I can only hope she can play again in the very near future, because she's a key element in this squad," Portes says.

The French squad

Goalkeepers: Amandine Leynaud (Vardar Skopje), Cléopatre Darleux (Viborg HK)

Left wings: Paule Baudouin (Metz HB), Siraba Dembele (Vardar Skopje)

Back court players: Camille Ayglon (HBC Nîmes), Koumba Cisse (Fleury Loiret HB), Allison Pineau (Vardar Skopje), Grace Zaadi (Metz HB), Alice Leveque (UMB-B), Audrey Bruneau (Fleury Loiret HB), Mariama Signate (Issy-Paris), Gnonsiane Niombla (Fleury Loiret HB), Alexandra Lacrabere (UMB-B).

Right wing: Maakan Tounkara (Fleury Loiret HB), Audrey Deroin (Toulon/Saint-Cyr)

Line players: Amelie Goudjo (Issy-Paris), Nina Kanto (Metz HB), Laurisa Landre (Le Havre)


TEXT: Kevin Domas / ts
 
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