Finding the way to Berlin: Chambery's EHF EURO winning goalkeeper has his sights set on further European glory, but by no means underestimates the difficult tasks at hand over the next few weeks
Dumoulin sees room for improvement
After an initial loss in Berlin, Chambéry has been gradually getting better and better, resulting in an away win in Hlohovec last weekend. A former regular VELUX EHF Champions League participant, just like group rivals Constanta and Berlin, Chambéry take part in their first EHF Cup campaign in nearly ten years.
Goalkeeper Cyril Dumoulin has gained new-found fame in January when he was one of the key elements in France’s EHF EURO 2014 triumph. But he is far from being over-confident and the 30-year-old knows what it will take to qualify for the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin, starting with the game against Hlohovec this Sunday at 19:00 CET live on ehfTV.com.
eurohandball.com: Cyril, what do you think of your team's performance in the EHF Cup so far?
Cyril Dumoulin: I think we've done OK. We've had a win, a draw and a defeat. We've got regrets regarding the draw, because we all think that with a little bit more experience, a little bit more patience, we might have won this one.
Now we'll have to get points away, in Romania especially. This group is very open, three teams can still make it to the next stage, and any team can gain points against any other team, just look at the draw that Berlin came back with from Constanta.
We now face a match that we absolutely have to win against Hlohovec at home, before what can be seen as a last 32 and a last 16 games, receiving Berlin and then playing in Constanta. We might even finish first in the group, even if we win our last three games.
eurohandball.com: What do you make of Chambéry's chances to qualify for the quarter-finals?
Cyril Dumoulin: I think it's 50/50. A lot of it will depend on the result of the Berlin vs Constanta game. In the meantime, we'll have to win against Hlohovec to give ourselves the best chance. Constanta is a very hard place to play, playing at home against Berlin is not an easy task either, but I think that we have a chance.
eurohandball.com: Chambéry have been used to beating big names at home, like Barcelona and Kielce, in the past. Do you think something similar can happen in the game against Berlin?
Cyril Dumoulin: We've got our chances, but it will be hard. In the first game there, we only lost by three goals, we played very well and I think there was room for us to get a better result. They were wiser on the important plays, had more experience as well, with players like Romero and Igropulo, who have played important games earlier in their careers.
I think at home we're capable of everything. Our fans will push us further and we've been in good form since the beginning of February. If we play the perfect game, we might win.
eurohandball.com: Do you think that the experience that players like yourself or the Gille brothers bring to Chambéry might be a decisive factor for you to qualify?
Cyril Dumoulin: It can be, yes, and actually it has to be. These games, just like the ones we'll play against Berlin and Constanta, are special games, where it's basically you win or you're out. The difference is in the tiny details, because both teams are on the same level of performance.
In Berlin, it was this kind of scenario, where not only the talent counts, but where you have to be careful about the ball and stick to the basics in order to score. Rhein-Neckar Löwen showed it last season and that's why they won. They had a squad made of players with experience and talent, and both are key ingredients to success in European competitions.
eurohandball.com: In your career, you played the Cup Winners’ Cup up until 2006 and then you only played in the Champions League. What do you think of the level of the EHF Cup?
Cyril Dumoulin: I think it has evolved a lot. There are a lot of teams from Eastern Europe which are really good, and now the level of the EHF Cup is so much higher than it used to. Five or ten years ago, there would be two or three contenders for the win, this year there are nine or ten. I think the level is much more even now, and it's more interesting. Setting up the finals, just like the Champions League, was a great move as well, it's become a real event now and I think it's better for the teams and for the fans.
eurohandball.com: This year, there are three French teams taking part in the EHF Cup and all three of them are still able to qualify for the quarter-finals. Do you think it's a symbol of growth of the French league?
Cyril Dumoulin: It sure is encouraging. In the old days, we used to have one team in the competition and now we have three, so it shows how much progress the French league has made in the past few years.
But you can also look on the darker side of things, and say that there is only one French team in the Last 16 of the Champions League, meaning there is still a lot to be done to catch up with the Bundesliga. Of course, this is better than nothing, last year we had Nantes in the EHF Cup final, this year we might aim at having two teams taking part in the finals, so this is really encouraging.
eurohandball.com: You played in the Max-Schmelling Halle a couple of weeks back, and that's also the arena where the EHF Cup Finals will take place. What can you tell us about it?
Cyril Dumoulin: It's a really nice arena, really beautiful. As is often the case in Germany, it was nearly sold-out when we played there. You could see that the fans there know about handball, they don't come to the arena just for the show, but they're also there to support their team and be the eighth man. It will be very tough to play against Berlin if they make it to the finals. I'm sure it will be a nice event, in front of a crowd that knows handball.
eurohandball.com: If you had to name a couple of favourites to qualify for the finals, now that three games have been played, who would they be?
Cyril Dumoulin: Of course, Berlin is an obvious choice. We've played against them and they are a strong team with lots of experience, so I'm sure they'll be there. I'd also go for two French teams, I don't know which, even though I hope Chambéry will be there. Léon has a huge European history, and they can qualify, whereas I don't think Hannover-Burgdorf are going to be able to come back after their bad start.
The two Hungarian teams are in my choice as well. Szeged was obvious, even before the start of the competition, but Csurgoi are making a great impression and they could be the surprise guest in Berlin, just like Holstebro was last year in Nantes.
TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor
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