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29.02.2016, 11:17
France dream of double qualification success in March
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PREVIEW: The World Championship 2015 has been a disappointment for France, and head coach Olivier Krumbholz had only little time to prepare his team for the upcoming challenges: the EHF EURO and the Olympic qualification
 

France dream of double qualification success in March

The last couple of months have been a stormy time for the French national team, but with the EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers in sight, there is hope in the French camp that they will soon steer in calmer waters.

Following the disappointing seventh place at the World Championship in Denmark, head coach Alain Portes was sacked in January.

However, with the two qualifiers against Germany (9 and 12 March) as well as the Olympic qualification tournament (18 to 20 March) in mind, the French federation chose the easiest option and called back former head coach – and Portes’ predecessor – Olivier Krumbholz.

At 57, Krumbholz is well-known figure in the handball world. In 15 years on the bench he trained the French women’s team a record 413 times. He steered them to their only World Championship title in 2003 as well as to the two EHF EURO bronze medals in 2002 and 2006.

Focus on defence

With so little time available, Krumbholz was not going to change everything Portes had built in three years.

“We're going to rely on the work that has been done previously, keep the things that are working well and maybe try to add some others,” he said a few days after his nomination.

Out of the 18 players that were named to prepare for the World Championships back in December, 17 have been called back this time, with left back Alice Lévêque being the only one left aside.

To replace her right wing Blandine Dancette has been nominated, mainly for her defensive skills as the new coach explains.

“I tend to focus on defence, especially on the wings, and Blandine has every ability to do the job. On the other hand, Alice is having a tough time at the moment in her club (Metz Handball) so it made sense not to call her this time.”

For Krumbholz the two games against Germany are an ideal preparation ahead of the Olympic qualification which will take place just ten days later.

Tied at the top of Group 7 with four points each, the games between France and Germany could already allow one of the two teams to get the ticket to Sweden 2016.

“The ideal scenario would see us winning both games against Germany as well as qualifying for the Olympics,” Krumbholz says.

“The two games against Germany will allow us to work and to get our systems ready. I'm sure all these girls have all the potential to make this scenario come to life.”


TEXT: Kevin Domas / ts
 
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