Karabatic: We are no top favourite

INTERVIEW: French star speaks about his team's preparation as they travel to Denmark with Omeyer and Fernandez on board

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

The final pieces of the French puzzle have been completed at home before travelling to the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark: Although they had not played for the last couple of months due to injuries, team captain Jerome Fernandez and goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer are part of the squad, consisting of 18 players, which start their EHF EURO campaign.

Head coach Claude Onesta nominated Fernandez despite his metacarpal fracture after finishing the Golden League tournament. When the team doctors of MAHB Montpellier gave the green light, Omeyer will also travel to Denmark and will be hoping his vast experience will make up the fact that he did not have a training session with his team after a bicep rupture some months ago.

But by now it is unsure whether Fernandez and Omeyer will already play in the opener against Russia on Monday – or even make it on to the court before the main round.

In an exclusive interview with ehf-euro.com, French star Nikola Karabatic talks about the chances of both injured key players (both are triple world champions, double Olympic champions and double EHF EURO champions) and the general objectives of the French team in Denmark.

ehf-euro.com: Will we see Jerome Fernandez and Thierry Omeyer on court in Denmark?

Nikola Karabatic: I hope that they can help us in our campaign, but it looks difficult. While Jerome already had training sessions with the national team, Titi still has to wait.

So time will decide, whether they play or not. It is looking clearly better for Jerome will be fit early enough. It was a good news that Montpellier confirmed that Titi will be able to go to Denmark. Hopefully he will manage to join our team later.

ehf-euro.com: Gille, Barachet and others out, Fernandez and Omeyer unsure – have you ever experienced a series of injuries like this in the national team?

Nikola Karabatic: No, never. This is really bad luck for our team. Maybe it is the rhythm of tournaments and competitions which led to tiredness and injuries. But we do not lament. This situation is a chance for younger players to grab their opportunity for standing in the spotlight.

They can help us, they can be part of our success they will contribute to our team – as they have the luck to have more time on court, as others have bad luck, as they are out.

ehf-euro.com: One of those newcomers is your brother Luka. After playing together with him at Montpellier, how does it feel to be on court for the national team as brothers?

Nikola Karabatic: It is great! Although he has a low number of international matches, he has plenty of experience. He has a great will to fight, especially in defence, but also in attack it runs quite fluid. He can lift our performing level.

ehf-euro.com: France were EHF EURO champions 2006 and 2010 – does your team again belong to the wide range of top favourites in Denmark?

Nikola Karabatic: No, France are not among those top favourites due to the abovementioned injury situation. Denmark, Spain and Croatia are the main contenders for the medals, we are more like an outsider. We will see where we stand after the preliminary round, then we might talk again, if we still have the chance to fight for the medals.

written by Björn Pazen / cor