When Chambery lost at home to Kolding by 6 goals the first weekend I said it would be gut check time. When they then lost a midweek game to Tremblay (11th place last year) in the French League, I figured it was double gut check time. And when they ended the first half at Red Star Belgrade losing 14-9, it looked like their hopes for making the round of 16 was in total jeopardy. Then they woke up and outscored the host Serbs 18-12 in the 2nd half to eke out a 27-26 victory. And I do mean eke out. Their Serbian goalie Nebojsa Stojinovic stopped a penalty shot with 10 seconds left to preserve a one point victory and 2 points in Group C. In all, it was a good day for the Serbs playing for Chambery as their captain Nenad Vuckovic netted 13 of Chambery’s 27 goals. Perhaps being Serbs, they were fully prepared for the hostile atmosphere of playing in Belgrade. The small gym was not a sell-out, but one section of the gym was one of the most vocal and animated crowds I’ve ever observed. They stood the entire match and chanted loudly and gestured throughout. God help a team coming to Belgrade if they could ever get the entire crowd to react like that section.
As a side note, the Chambery-Red Star Belgrade match drew a lot of one sided betting action on Chambery. Many pundits were puzzled to see the semi-professional Belgrade team favored to beat the 2nd best team in France, especially after Red Star was blitzed by 12 goals against Poland’s Wisla Plock the week before. The bookmakers, however, were equally not impressed by Chambery’s losses to Kolding and Tremblay and started the line with Chambery as an almost 2-1 underdog. Money poured in on Chambery and the line moved to “even money” before it was pulled off the board. Apparently, the bookies were pretty exposed with one sided betting on Chambery and didn’t want to take any more bets. I’m guessing Stojinovic’s penalty shot stop with 10 seconds left had a lot of Chambery bettors breathing a sigh of relief.