Women's 17 EHF EURO gives France a first international testArticle
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FEATURE: France are hoping their strong defence will be the key to success at the Women's 17 EHF EURO which starts on Thursday in Slovakia

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Women's 17 EHF EURO gives France a first international test

It's been a busy summer for France's young seeds. Right after the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), at which head coach Laurent Puigségur's girls finished fifth, they are diving straight into the Women's 17 EHF EURO on Thursday.

The competitions are a first taste of international handball for many of the French team and the occasion to gain some experience for all of them.

“We finished fifth in Hungary thanks to our good defence. It took a while for us to find our rhythm, but once we got there, we won our last three games,” says Puigségur. 

After conceding 23 goals or less in each of their matches against Montenegro, Norway and the Netherlands, France gave an indication of what would be their best asset - even though Puigségur thought his team were a little tense. But the W17 EURO remains the most important of the two competitions.

“The level was high and we knew it would be hard to get results before the Euro. But for all the girls, it was better to get their international cherry popped in Hungary than at the Euro, where the pressure for results will be much higher,” says Puigségur.

Experience first

The group of 16 players heading to Slovakia will not just be aiming for a European crown. In  Puigségur's mind, this first international competition will be the opportunity to taste high-level handball and for the women to get experience.

“At such a young age, I don't consider the result as a priority. I want them to play well and follow the project. Winning is a bonus,” continues Puiségur, a former world champion in 2001 with the French national team.

In Slovakia, the French team will face Romania, Czech Republic and Sweden, three sides France has often crossed paths with in recent times. They are aiming to take each match as it comes and to see what happens.

Romania will be the toughest opponents, having just finished second at EYOF, but France cannot be afraid of anyone, says Puigsegur.

“Romania showed their game is set already, but we're not far from what we want to do either,” he concludes.

TEXT: Kevin Domas / jh