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11.08.2014, 12:34
Medals in the minds of Quintin and France
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INTERVIEW: With the Men's 18 EHF EURO days away, France's coach believes his squad has what it takes to become the next golden generation
 

Medals in the minds of Quintin and France

After a disappointing 12th place two years ago, the French U18s are aiming much higher this time around.

Coached by Eric Quintin, former world champion in 1995 and famous for being part of “The Barjots” (France’s first internationally successful team), the squad has done everything in their power this summer.

“I think that compared to the previous generation, this one has more quality," says Quintin, a left wing back in the day.

“We've got an extraordinary right side, both on the wing and back position,” Quintin says, but emphasises that the key for his team seems to be maturity, since “this generation has got a higher handball IQ than the one before. For guys who are only 18, you can see they've been fed high quality handball.”

But having quality is one thing, using it on the court is another. The foundations of the squad that will go to Poland this week were laid in January, when France won its three qualification games, beating Denmark at home along the way.

“These qualification games certainly gave us confidence, but so did the preparation games we played in the last few weeks. And at this age, things can still change within minutes of a game."

Quintin explains that one aim is to “help the team to play at a certain level. You can't play worse than this level, but you have the right to play higher. Even if the players are playing badly, I still want them to deliver a minimum standard.”

Help from the stars

For this massive task, he's been helped by two freshly retired champions, Daouda Karaboué and Didier Dinart. Both ended their playing careers last summer, but are still very much in touch with handball and for the young players, they are names that certainly ring a bell.

“Daouda and Didier are two players that my boys watched on TV a couple of years ago. So having them at training sessions was a huge bonus for us. You could see in the goalkeepers eyes that training with Daouda was something special,” Quintin says, not jealous at all by the attention the two younger coaches get.

“In terms of charisma, they're probably better than me," he laughs. “Didier will be with us throughout this event, bringing his experience, especially defensively."

The young guys agree, as Lucas Ferrandier admits: "When Didier Dinart is teaching or explaining something to you, well, he's an expert you know, he's won everything and definitely someone you look up to.”

Armed with this new member in his staff, Eric Quintin is aiming for a medal and nothing less.

“We've got the potential for it and the clues I've gathered during preparation tell me that we may at least hope for a semi-final spot.”

However, the 47-year-old coach does not want to sound pretentious: “It's quite easy to say that now, knowing that losing your first group match could ruin the whole competition, but this easy-going group deserves it.”

Expectations aside, Quintin will be happy simply in the taking part, as he confirms in conclusion: “My joy and pride to take part in such a competition is genuine. To share these few days with the best handball teams is a real pleasure.”

Tournament information

The Men’s 18 EHF EURO takes place in the Polish cities of Gdynia and Gdansk from 14 to 24 August 2014. For more information visit the official website and the event's Facebook page.

During the tournament eurohandball.com and the EHF EURO Facebook page will also feature regular reports, features and photo galleries.

Austria hosted the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2012. Back then Germany won, Sweden came second and Denmark placed third.

Photo credit: French Handball Federation (FFHB)


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor
 
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