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Jostled, the French team had to work hard to beat Switzerland on Monday, January 18 in their third match of the first round of the World Handball Championships (25-24). The Blues, winners of their three matches in Group E, approach the main round in a good position. Egypt, although narrowly beaten by Sweden (24-23), will also be in the next round. Like Algeria, it also tamed by Portugal (26-19). Morocco is eliminated.
It is a somewhat paradoxical first round which ends with the French men’s handball team. In reconstruction after the fiasco of Euro 2020, the tricolor group lined up two good performances against Norway, yet vice-world champion and third in the last Euro (28-24), then against Austria (35- 28), before struggling against an apparently inferior opponent. Switzerland, drafted for this 2021 World Cup in Egypt thanks to the US package, gave the French a lot of trouble.
A “booster shot” for the future
After a hooked first period (14-14), neither of the two selections managed to really gain the upper hand over the other. France have never been more than two goals clear and even saw Switzerland take control of the game with less than 10 minutes to go. Fortunately, coach Guillaume Gille was able to count on the efficiency of Kentin Mahé (7 goals), the composure of Luc Abalo and a decisive parade from goalkeeper Vincent Gérard in the money-time to snatch victory (25-24) .
Vincent Gérard described this meeting as ” good booster shot without losing a match ». « We scared each other, so the feeling is mixed “, Said the pivot Luka Karabatic, who does not forget the essential:” It’s a victory in a World Cup, and it’s never trivial. Echoing his teammate, he added: ” It’s a good reminder that shows that we still have work, that we still have to build ourselves. »
France finished at the top of Group E and will approach the next round with four points already on the clock, like Portugal.
It goes for Egypt and Algeria
In the other meetings this Monday, Algeria suffered its second consecutive defeat in Group F. After drinking the cup against Iceland on Saturday (39-24), the Algerians were this time dominated by Portugal (26 -19). However, they qualified for the next round, like Portugal and Iceland, because in the evening, Morocco lost to the Icelanders (31-23). With three losses in three matches, the Moroccans finished in last place in Group F and were eliminated, while Algeria took advantage of their victory against their Maghreb neighbor (24-23 on January 14) to take third place and s ‘invite to the main round.
Egypt, meanwhile, came close to a superb performance against Sweden. The Egyptians led with a four-goal lead in the first period, before the Swedes woke up after the break. The Europeans caught up and took the lead, but still a short lead. And it was only in the final seconds that Sweden scored the winning goal (24-23). However, this short setback did not prevent Egypt from finishing in second place in Group G and qualifying for the next round.
During the day, Cape Verde (group A) withdrew for the rest of the competition. Affected by cases of Covid-19 in its workforce, the Cape Verdean selection, already absent and beaten on the green carpet on January 17 against Germany, withdrew.