Organizational efforts combined with a stellar performance by Valero Rivera’s men, who made it all the way to the final and gave the French “experts” a real run for their money, even though France ended up winning the final and snatching a record fifth world title.
Going back to the championship highlights, it is worth noting that all eyes were on the Qatari squad whose performance dazzled not only opponents, but handball fans who delighted in watching a former underdog confidently take on the sport’s finest.
France’s star-studded squad makes history
Led by “the Giant” Nikola Karabatic, “goalkeeper of the century” Thierry Omeyer, and a host of talented players, the French national handball team delivered results that exceeded everyone’s expectations, owing mainly to a philosopher by the name of Claude Onesta, who’s been gradually imparting his unique philosophy to Les Bleus’ former human wall Didier Dinart, who’s widely viewed as a shoo-in for the coach position following Onesta’s departure.
With 5 titles from 20 world championships, 3 titles from 12 European championships, and 2 gold medals from 7 Olympic appearances, France has indeed bagged 25% of global handball titles – and no surprise about that, for the French are simply – and rightfully - “The Experts.”
Gajic top scorer and Omeyer a unanimous MVP
Slovenian right wing Dragan Gajic shocked the world’s biggest names in Doha and was named top scorer in the championship with 71 goals, earning a well-deserved spot in the all-tournament team at the end of the championship. The 32-year old Veszprém star, who spent 5 seasons with Montpellier (2011-2016), played a major part in helping his country place 8th in the championship and advance to the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifiers.
And, while Gajic was named top scorer, goalkeeping giant Thierry Omeyer (40) was without a doubt the championship’s most valuable player, following a spectacular performance that gave France its 5th world title on Qatari soil after Iceland 1995, France 2001, Croatia 2009, and Sweden 2011.