Dunkerque celebrate their maiden victoryArticle
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FEATURE: After six defeats in a row the French newcomers finally recorded their first points in the European top flight. The match against Kielce turned out into a one-man show for Dunkerque's goalkeeper Vincent Gerard, but he dismisses himself as the hero of the game.

Dunkerque celebrate their maiden victory

Dunkerque finally won their first victory on Saturday against Kielce, the third team of the last VELUX EHF Champions League edition.

"It's a relief," says Dunkerque's president Jean Pierre Vandaele. "We had a bad start in the competition, but showing a good performance on Saturday, in front of our crowd, was something we really wanted to do."

Even if the French team was in lead by four goals some twenty minutes from the end, Vincent GĂ©rard showed once again all of his skills between the post, stopping 13 shots during the second period alone. But he was also quick to dismiss himself as the hero of the game.

"I think it's our defense in general which made the difference. Their backcourt players had no solution, they couldn't shoot, couldn't give the ball to the line player. In situations like those, it's just pure fun for me."

And seen from the seats, it apparently looked a lot of fun as well. "It was stressful," says Vandaele.

"But I trust my boys and I knew they wanted to give it all. Even if we lost our first six matches in the Champions League, luck finally turned our way. And for it to turn against Kielce, that's just the icing on the cake!"

Jean Pierre Vandaele has been in charge of the club for two and a half years now. And he, like his players, were saddened coming back home weekend after weekend just brining back losses.

"I think that more than sad we were upset about it," corrects the new French national team goalkeeper Gerard. "We wanted to show everybody that we could exist in the Champions League, that we were up to it. And in the last game in Kiel, we were actually good, so I think we showed everybody we deserved to be there."

And after their maiden success, the French club is looking for something more. And this time, Vandaele has brought his calculator out. "If we win the last three matches we've got, we might make it to the last 16. Even if we win at home against Porto and in Plock by at least four goals, that could work out."

Even if the mathematics serve him right, his players are quick to turn down any chance to go over enthusiastic. "We have just a very slim chance," says the 27-year-old goalkeeper. "But more than that, this victory gives us loads of regrets. If we had won all the games, even half the games we've lost by one or two goals, this could be a different story."

TEXT: Kevin Domas / br