Team GB to open against France

15 June 2012 / 13:53

Great Britain's men's handball side will begin their Olympic Games campaign in the toughest possible manner by facing reigning gold medallists France at the Copper Box on July 29.

GB coach Dragan Djukic had the luxury of picking which group his side went into as host nation and opted for Pool A, which contained champions France and silver medallists Iceland, in the hope of faring well against the non-European sides of Argentina and Tunisia.

They face Sweden in their second outing on July 31, followed by the crunch games with their South American and African opponents on August 2 and 4 respectively. Their preliminary stage campaign comes to an end with a clash against Iceland on August 6.

The women play their first game on the opening day of the competition on July 28 in Pool A, when they are paired up with Montenegro, who they recently lost to in a Euro 2012 qualifying game.

Russia (July 30) and Brazil (August 1) are their next opponents before their must-win clash with Angola on August 3 while their preliminary stage closes with a tussle with Croatia on August 5.

Both sides have set pre-tournament targets of advancing past the group stages and into the last eight, but Djukic admits to do so would be a "dream".

"Our wish is to compete and make one of the biggest ever surprises in handball," Djukic said. "I hope the boys believe we can play against them. We have to play against France who are Olympic and world champions and that is going to be hard.

"But if we get through that experience I think we have a chance. For me, the quarter-finals is a dream."

The women have arguably a better chance of achieving their goal and coach Jesper Holmris has made no bones about which of their games is the most important, saying: "We picked Group A because of Angola. We have played against them three times and beat them in November so that gives us confidence and belief we can beat them again.

"All the other nations are really strong and we are really looking to see if we can beat Angola and then make a big shock against one of the other teams. We have to play to our potential and then even a little bit better. But you never know what can happen in sport."