POST MATCH BLOG: Panic attacks
If ever a cliché were true, then this was a game of two halves. Kielce came to town full of confidence to meet a Chambéry team that was a polar opposite. The mood in the Kielce camp was relaxed yet focused, Chambéry knew it was a must win.
Prior to the game talking with both coaches, Bogdan said, the team still needed time to gel with a lot of new players having come this season. Mario, was more upbeat, believing that Chambéry was on an upward curve.
Upon arrival at the stadium, Le Phare, I noticed that the three Gille boys had also arrived, so like a little autograph hunter, I followed them to the dressing room and knocked and waited patiently at the door. After five minutes or so, I noticed Guillaume heading to the bathroom so I asked could I have a photo taken. No problem, he said and there I was in the sanctum sanctorum of the Chambéry team. Players said hello, chatted to me, I got my photo and got the hell out of there before I outstayed my welcome.
The crowd in Le Phare, “Les Fondus” as they are called have to be mentioned. They are a great bunch. They cheer that team on, win or lose during the entire game. They seem to really be in synch with the players; they understand their problems at the moment and will them to give whatever they can.
At one point during a time out, the crowd at one end roared out and the ones at the opposite end responded. It was a fantastic atmosphere and they made the small, but merry band of Kielce supporters very welcome.
As if in response to their fans, the Chambéry team gave their all. Despite another slow start, they pegged Kielce back and a real ding-dong battle commenced.
Kielce couldn’t deal with the double line of Detrez and Gille and it was interesting to watch Wenta on the side line. He didn’t know whether to scream at Musa and Jurecki, the centre block, or sit them down and take out an overhead projector and show them what they were doing wrong.
This is why I love handball. It helps to be over 1m90 to block jump shots, but what happens when there are little bounce passes going past the foot and round the corner; the big guys can’t bend so quickly.
Nothing shows the benefit of a small quick guy in handball more than Čupić and Štrlek. Neither of them is tall, by any stretch of the handball imagination, but their speed, technique and seemingly unerring ability to find each other or the back of the net on fast breaks is nothing short of miraculous. 14 goals between them show that.
Second half, Panic attacks! Forgive the pun, but I’ve been working on it for 3 weeks so I had to get it in. Wenta puts Grabarczyk in the centre of defence and suddenly the double line isn’t so dangerous. Now Chambéry must try something else and the ball moving from left to right, three times in a row is intercepted by Štrlek.
The attack of Chambéry grinds to a halt, not even Panic with his ambidextrous ability can stop the complete disarray in the Chambéry ranks. Kielce just pulverise every mistake time and time again. A match that had looked good in the first half turned into a slaughter.
I am not of a mind normally to make excuses for a team, but Chambéry was down to the bare bones of players for this game, due to injury, having also, just played top dogs Paris in a home game three days before. Kielce on the other hand looked strong, with so many good players in each position and a coach willing to play them all. The fight and energy went out of Chambéry in the second half and Kielce showed no mercy. The stuff of champions? Who knows? But certainly the stuff of a team that can go a long way in this competition!
My final mention goes to Guilllaume Gille, because I thought he rolled back the years in this game. He fought in defence, scored 3 goals, one of which was a blinder and coached the younger players throughout the game on the court. He was a true leader and Chambéry will need true leaders to get out of this group. You heard it here first, don’t discount them; with all their players back, they could still cause an upset.
TEXT: Tom Ó Brannagáin, ehfTV commentator