N. Karabatic: “The hardest part is yet to come”


25 January 2017

Here is the reaction of Nikola Karabatic after France’s victory over Sweden.

Such a game, in front of a such a crowd, that’s the kind of things that sends shivers down your spine doesn’t it?

Karabatic: “You get the shivers when you walk onto the court and when the game’s over. During the game, you have to block it out because it can play against you, especially in such tight games. The crowd’s pressure can turn its way around so we try not to think about it too much. We want to use the energy the crowd, its support when we score a goal. We’ve been able to control our emotions tonight; we didn’t let our heads down when the momentum was against us. The Swedes were coming back into the game every time and in moments like those, the crowd’s pressure can on you. The team didn’t panic and that was the key tonight.”

Is this match some kind of benchmark?

Karabatic: “I don’t know, but anyway it was a huge battle, certainly the biggest since the beginning of this world championship. Sweden didn’t give up, they had the lead many times they pushed us to play our best handball. That’s the kind of success that counts in a competition, that makes every player gain experience and which gives us trust in each other.”

Can we say now that the second goal has been reached?

Karabatic: “We didn’t set goals, we’re just taking everything game to game. We wanted to win every game we played, now reaching the semi-finals looks like an enormous goal. We’re very proud of everything we have done so far, but we also know the hardest part is yet to come. We’ve done something big but we still haven’t got anything around our neck, we’re going to enjoy this win and get back to work quickly.”

Do you feel you had to empty your tank tonight?

Karabatic: “No. Every game is tough, every game is a fight, especially in one-off games where there’s a lot of tension and nervousness because there’s so much at stake. I think we’re all still fit. The team has behaved very well tonight and even in the times when it was tough, we’ve managed not to panic and not to let our heads slip. We carried on playing with energy and trust and in the end it gave us the victory.”

Does it hurt a little bit to leave Lille?

Karabatic: “We were happy to play in front of so many people but we are happy to go back to Paris. It means we are in the final four.”