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27.10.2016, 22:41
“We are pretty independent already,” say Dinart and Gille
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: One month after being named head coaches of the French men’s national team, Didier Dinart and Guillaume Gille face their first true tests in the EHF EURO Qualification as well as the opportunity to step out of Claude Onesta’s shadow
 

“We are pretty independent already,” say Dinart and Gille

France announced at the end of September that Claude Onesta would be taking a step back, leaving Didier Dinart and Guillaume Gille, newcomer and former centre back, now in command.

But the former head coach won't be completely out of the picture since he has now become general manager.

The new duo has already published their first team roaster ahead of the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification games in November against Lithuania (at home on 3 November) and Belgium (away on 6 November), and there are a few surprises to be found.

Dika Mem and Yanis Lenne, two former Men’s 18 EHF EURO champions, will be making their first baby steps, while Arnaud Bingo and Benjamin Afgour will be making their returns after three-year absences.

Ahead of those two games, Didier Dinart and Guillaume Gille spoke exclusively to ehf-euro.com.

ehf-euro.com: Didier, can Claude Onesta's decision to take a step back, and in the meantime the arrival of Guillaume Gille, be seen as a soft change?
Dinart: At least we can say that there is some continuity between what we've done before and what we're about to do now. I arrived in 2015 in Qatar and my mission then was to be a defensive coach. It evolved in 2016 at the EURO, I was in charge of the training and the video analysis. The federation and Claude made a decision to take a step back. Everybody thought it was the right time to do it and that makes me see this change as an advantage.

ehf-euro.com: Guillaume, how do you feel about being part of the national team's staff?
Gille: I have a lot of pride being able to play a part in the future of the French national team. I arrive with a lot of passion and envy. My only focus is to be able to help this team ahead of the next competition. The idea came up some time ago, but it didn't work out. It wasn't something I was thinking about every morning, but to be called up of course is a very nice feeling.

ehf-euro.com: What will be your role in this duo?
Dinart: Things will take their place naturally and everyone will soon be able to see how we work. But more than knowing who's the boss and who's not, Guillaume and I will do everything we can and work in the best interest of the national team.

Gille: I will be taking care of the physical preparation, but not only that. For the time being, Alain Quintallet will be helping me in this area and I will be gradually replacing him. That's the first part of my job, the second being really focused in the technical department, alongside Didier. I will be doing many things, actually (laughs).

ehf-euro.com: How do you feel about Claude Onesta still being around the French team?
Dinart: I feel like we're pretty independent already. Everything's clear, we will have responsibilities and we will be accountable if something goes wrong. You know, when you're in a club if you don't get the results everyone's hoping for, the president sometimes comes to the dressing room to shout. To me it's not a problem if someone needs to say the bad things at some point, that's just how high-level sport works.

Gille: The fact that Claude is taking a step back will definitely be a change in many ways. But, by doing so, he gives us a lot of space and I see his presence around as a safety net. He'll ring the bells when he sees the danger coming and his experience will be something we'll maybe use. He guarantees that the values that he injected are kept alive in the national team environment.

ehf-euro.com: Are the two upcoming games against Lithuania and Belgium somehow a way for you to find your way?
Gille: There is something at stake in those two games, they are not friendlies, so we'll have to switch to competition mode right away. We've called up 25 players so this international week will give us the opportunity to see some players we might not have had before. We'll give some playing time to the players we want to observe and maybe rest a little bit more some that have played a lot since the Olympics.

ehf-euro.com: Does the fact the World Championship 2017 in France is only three months away add a further bit of pressure?
Dinart: There is pressure that comes with playing the World Championship, of course, but I don't see it being harder to handle than for any other competition. I've lived two EUROs, one World Championship and the Olympics on the bench, so this will be my fifth major competition coaching. In France, with the fans backing us up, I hope I can turn my experience into a force.

Gille: The arrival of one new face on the bench and the stepping back of another one isn't a huge transformation. Anyway, France now has the habit to muster up good results in every competition. So the pressure comes more from the team's status than from the fact that the World Championship is played in France. The pressure we have on our shoulders is something that we're used to as professional handball players, and to me it looks like real fuel to be able to count on your fans to win a competition.


TEXT: EHF / ts
 
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