Women's World Handball Championship: France crowned for the third time against Norway

After a flawless run, a demonstration in the semi-final against Sweden and a domination against Norway, who were playing almost at home, in the final, the France women's handball team won the third World Cup in its history this Sunday, December 17.

France celebrates their victory during the final against Norway in the Women's World Handball Championship in Herning, Denmark, December 17, 2023. AFP - JONATHAN NACKSTRAND

By: RFI Follow


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Almost 20 years to the day after its first world title, the France women's handball team returned to the table on Sunday, December 17. In a red-clad Herning arena dressed in the colours of Denmark and neighbouring Norway, Les Bleues dominated the Norwegians to clinch a third world championship title to their trophy cabinet. It was an XXL performance to bring to a successful tournament after crushing Sweden in the semi-finals seven months before the Paris Olympic Games.

Two-time European champions and reigning world champions, the Scandinavians were unable to break the French women's dreams of glory this time, as they had done in the final of Euro-2020 (22-20), the World Cup-2021 (29-22) and in the semi-finals of Euro-2022 (28-20). This team of France vintage 2023, which has not lost a single match of the year, was untouchable.

She arrived in Scandinavia three weeks ago with the sole objective of measuring her progress before the big challenge of defending the Olympic title in Paris next year. Olivier Krumbholz's girls also wanted to open up the attacking game, having failed at the Euros last year against the Norwegians who had highlighted a traditional weak point of Les Bleues, who left Slovenia full of bitterness.

Sako in the relay

A year later, Ljubljana's tears have dried and they have added a string to their bow. As well as a title to their collection. They still rely on a fierce and organised defence, despite the absence of their boss for ten years, Béatrice Edwige, who has been sidelined to make way for youth.

This weapon ended up wearing down the Norwegians of Henny Reistad (5/6) during a second period much less removed than the first (20-17 at half-time), where France held firm after feeling the breath of Katrine Lunde and her teammates return in its neck (26-25, 49th). She could also have avoided a cold sweat at the end of the match if Alicia Toublanc had finished her counterattack in the net and not on the bar with six minutes to go on a +5 ball (29-25).

Les Bleues seem to be even more effective on counter-attacks, their other ten-year guarantee. Like the one finished by captain Estelle Nze Minko, after intercepting the ball herself, to create a first lead at the end of the first period (17-14, 24′). And they improved on set pieces, like this textbook move to shift Chloé Valentini on her left wing (24-21, 37′).

Grandcalf as a hero

This third title is also that of a very homogeneous group, where almost every player has contributed his or her contribution. Laura Glauser had shone for the past week in goal? On Sunday, the torch was taken up by Hatadou Sako (4 saves on 16 shots including a penalty), who came on in the second half and closed the shop by deflecting a shot from Skogrand with two minutes to go.

Sarah Bouktit, 21 years old, took over perfectly in the penalty shootout exercise (2/3), while Léna Grandveau (5/6), a year younger, delivered a sparkling end to the match. Trained as a centre-half, the Nantes native replaced Laura Flippes, who received a knock in the first half, at right-back despite being right-footed - and therefore has a lower shooting angle. With the carefree look of a 20-year-old, Grandveau scored Les Bleues' last four goals, before all rushed to the pitch to celebrate at the final whistle.

(With AFP)

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  • Handball
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