Formality against Australia accomplished (46-7), the French start their survival operation Wednesday at the World Handball Championship in Japan, where they will have to beat Germany and Denmark to believe in their chances of retaining their title.
Badly embarked after their defeat against South Korea and their draw against Brazil, the Blue won their first victory of the tournament, and the largest of their history in this type of competition, against one of the weakest teams . Olivier Krumbholz gave his first minutes of play to Gnonsiane Niombla (3 goals), the back he had joined the group the same morning in place of the experienced Camille Ayglon, embarrassed by physical problems. The goal: to strengthen the attack, failing in the first two games. "I'm counting on her to bring us her shooting power, her excesses and her vision of the game"said the coach, who has the right to make three changes during the World Cup.
The game against the Australian amateurs had the merit of giving back the smile to the players. "After the first two difficult games, we needed to release the pressure and have fun on the field", said winger Pauline Coatanea, the top scorer with 7 goals (out of 7 shots), ahead of Astride N'Gouan (6 goals) and Laura Flippes (5 goals).
The goalkeeper, Amandine Leynaud, who will certainly have a lot of playing time in the crucial games to come, was left to rest in favor of Catherine Gabriel (11 stops). Beatrice Edwige and Grace Zaadi were also prepared for the next day.
To avoid a disqualification in the first round, even if it would not call into question the ambition of the French women to be Olympic champions this summer, a victory against Germany or against Denmark could be sufficient depending on the results of the other . But to have a real role to play in the next phase, you have to win twice. And to reach the semi-finals, a clear fault in the three meetings of the main round, against opponents as formidable as Norway and the Netherlands, is likely to be mandatory.