The right-back evokes the current difficulties of a French handball team which will start its World Cup on Thursday against Norway.
Nedim, what is your assessment of the two matches against Serbia (a draw and a defeat) which preceded this World Cup?
Nedim Remili: In view of the results, the results cannot be positive. There are many lessons to be learned. We knew we had a lot to review, to perfect, to build as a new team with a new manager. That takes time. It is obvious that we did not start on the basis that we hoped for. We would have preferred to leave with full confidence. We are certain on certain points because over two matches, when it doesn’t work, it proves that we should not insist (smile). Afterwards, of course, when you represent France, you owe it to yourself to perform very quickly, especially in a World Championship.
Are you worried about not being ready for this World Cup, that it is coming too early?
No, because even without being totally ready, without being at our peak, we owe it to ourselves to go get a medal. Maybe in Egypt we will not produce our best handball, but we will have to fight no matter what to get the best possible result. Envy, positive aggressiveness, intensity will be the basic ingredients to put in all our matches and that we are ready to do. Then, it will be necessary to continue to work as a team to become even better collectively.
“We do not yet find all the binder that could allow us to be decisive in hot times”
What are the main shortcomings of this France team?
The entire site needs to be reviewed. We are still looking for each other, whether in defense or attack, at the level of affinities. We do not yet find all the binder that could allow us to be decisive in hot times. Against Serbia, we saw a progression between the two matches, with a meeting there where we had not seen the light of day and a second where we had the ball to win at the very end of the match. Sometimes, we probably do not play in the best way possible in attack but the desire of each to serve the collective can compensate.
The absence of Nikola Karabatic is a real obstacle to overcome to rebuild this team …
Yes of course. Niko is quite simply one of the best players of all time. On the pitch, whether it’s a big day or not, it always has a real impact on the match, on the opponents. Whether offensively or defensively. It is useful all the time. He can miss five shots in a row and still make the difference late in the game. We know what he is doing, we know what he has done and therefore we know what he can do. I really wish he had been there. Now, that will not be the case and it will be up to us to assert ourselves, to become better to fill this gap.
With the withdrawal also of Cédric Sorhaindo, is the France team not lacking in leaders?
We would be happy to leave this question to you journalists. On our side, we try to build ourselves as a team. This is my fifth or sixth year in the France team and it is true that I experienced a period when there was still Thierry Omeyer, Daniel Narcisse, Sorhaindo… Today, there are only two left. , Michaël Guigou and Luc Abalo. It’s like that. The team has rejuvenated but it has continued to maintain value. For leadership, this will come naturally and it is important that we all stay together.
“This elimination hurt us, and we did not have time to rebuild ourselves”
When you talk about the importance of staying united, the collective trauma of the last Euro, ended by a 14e place, was it collectively evacuated?
Possibly not. Getting out like that from the 1st round, it marks. Especially when you come out of three previous competitions concluded on a medal. This elimination hurt us, and we did not have time to rebuild ourselves because with the health crisis, we did not see each other again until November, ten months later. At the time, in addition, we did not play a match. And this pre-World stage was very short because of the Champions League Final Four. Like I said, we need time. Rome was not done in a day and after what we went through, the France team will not be rebuilt in a day. And we must also admit that the other teams improve over time.
So, isn’t it the worst possible time to start with Norway?
There is no good or bad timetable. Or we only know afterwards. The good thing is that this game against Norway will get us right into the heart of the matter. We will really be able to where we are, without wanting to denigrate Serbia. After this match, we will be able to know more about where we can stand. A defeat would not be dramatic, especially with the formula of this World Championship. There will still be a long way to go. And it is also valid if we impose ourselves.
Until now, the France team has always approached a great competition to win it. Today, do you need to be more measured in your ambitions?
No, it must still be the win, or at least a medal. We may not collectively be as ready as other nations. We are living in a period of transition. Afterwards, some find it difficult to accept that the France team, after having dominated, can experience such a phase. For them, we should always be perfect. And I include journalists in that. You and us have been used to a team that wins everything. But today, this team has changed and the homogeneity of world handball means that there is no longer a team that dominates as much. Everyone is progressing and the overall level is rising. No one dominates his subject like the France team did for a few years. You just have to accept it.
Is it hard to accept it precisely?
You will have to ask the Experts. Me, for my first competition, I had experienced an elimination before the last four (Euro 2016). Afterwards, it is true that there was success at the 2017 World Cup but it was special, at home. It would have been strictly professional misconduct not to win. We would have been shot in the public square if we hadn’t won the title (laughs). But we’ve known for a while that the golden days of CSI are over. Everything that made the strength of this team has been gradually dissolved over time. Now there is a new team and we have to build ourselves as such. It is not hard to accept. It’s just another story and I hope it ends well. As could end that of Experts.