French handball players proved their own coach wrong!
Tanned at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, unfortunate finalists of the 1993 World Cup, it was in Iceland in 1995 that Barjots offered France its first major international competition. The year when, perhaps, we do not expect them. Words from Daniel Costantini, their coach… Interview conducted for Handball Magazine and Le Quotidien du Sport.
In a few seconds, Anquetil, Lathoud, Kervadec, Delattre, Monthurel, Mahé, Quintin, Munier, Stoecklin, Volle, Richardson and Martini would not have entered the legend of handball and, moreover, of French team sports. It was absolutely necessary for a small goal scored at the end of the match against Denmark, in the pool match.
” From the beginning of the competition, we were not well with our sneakers, recalled Daniel Costantini, the coach. In five group matches, we lost two (Germany and Romania) and won three, including one goal, for the so-called miracle of Denmark (22-21). Without this victory, we will go home. »
Daniel Costantini doesn’t believe in the Blues’ chances at the start of the world
Given the difficulties encountered in the first matches of this Icelandic World Cup played for the first time in the first stage of five group matches, qualifying for the 8th finals, it is almost logical that the adventure stops there for Bronzed from Barcelona, the 1993 world finalists.
” But so is this French team, recognized Costantini, which took time to enter the competition. It was in 1993, before to get to the final, we lost against Switzerland as we stayed on a 14-game winning streak against them. »
Arriving in Iceland without the major seven, with a lot of uncertainty, the coach changed his team compositions, weakening the collective. Despite everything, going through the mouse hole, the Blues found Dujshebaev’s Spain (the Russian who had just naturalized Spanish) in the round of 16.
“In the final, Richardson single-handedly stopped Croatia from pronouncing their handball”
“We beat them regularly, we took them out of the house in the Barcelona Olympics, but we thought that one day the streak would end, Costantini continued. »
“And it was in this outsider position, with the fear of direct elimination, that the group knew how to act when I removed myself from Gardent, Perreux and Gaudin, three common starters. From there, we showed another face . But as only the 3rd in our group, we had to move to the north of the island. I remember when we boarded our small plane with a ban on carrying more than 10 kilos of luggage per member of our small delegation, we are in our little shoes! »
In a group divided by the rivalry between the players of Marseille Vitrolles and PSG, Denis Lathoud’s initiative to organize a crisis meeting, without personnel, made it possible to break the abscess and create a kind of electro-shock. Defeated the Spaniards (23-20), “ the hardest part is done”the sequel will be more in line with the talent of an extraordinary team, but who needs ” to fear, to be against the wall, to move, otherwise he was satisfied with the approximate. »
Switzerland dispatched (28-18) in the quarters, Germany prevailed in the semis (22-20), only the Croatian obstacle remained in the finals.
A French team with unprecedented talent
” We know them by heart, many players from former Yugoslavia played with us. Again, the respect they inspired in us and their position as favourites, as they easily defeated Sweden in the semi-finals, leading by 11 goals at the break, worked in our favour. It was as an outsider that we approached this final, as an outsider we mastered it, with 7 players out of 12 at their highest level. »
Follower of a 3-2-1 system, confused by the defensive activity of Jackson Richardson ” he alone prevents the Croats from pronouncing their handball » -, Croatia may have changed their tactical plan three times, but nothing helped. Two years before the victory of the Blues of Jacquet in 1998, the Costantinis offered the first world title in the French collective sport.
” Although this success hit a bit of a lemon for some Barjot, laughing 27 years after the Marseille coach, this success is the reward for the work started at the end of the 1980s when the same players who won in Iceland agreed to train twice as much. I experienced it as a climax”.
In retrospect, we can also consider that the success of Barjots had a positive effect on the whole of French sport by definitely ridding it of its past complexes. ” We are no longer the Poulidor of world sport! »