France will meet Brazil in the 2017 World Men's Handball Championship opener Wednesday, while African champions Egypt will open its campaign by facing Qatar Friday.
Some 24 teams will be participating in the 25th edition of the prestigious tournament from 11-29 January, won most times by hosts France.
The 84 games of the championship will be played in eight venues: Paris-Bercy, Rouen, Nantes, Metz, Albertville, Montpellier, Lille, and Brest.
Title holders France are seeking their sixth title, while the Brazilians will be targeting their first.
France is among the frontrunners of the 2017 title alongside heavyweights Sweden, Croatia and Denmark.
“In comparison to Slovenia, against whom we played twice during the preparation phase, Brazil are playing in a different way. It’s a more aggressive team; they put a lot on physical impact,” Didier Dinart, one of the two head coaches of the French team, was quoted as saying by the tournament's official website.
Egypt's mission starts Friday
Six-time African Handball champions Egypt will be making their 21st appearance at the championship, facing Qatar in the opener 13 January.
Egypt will be competing in Group D alongside Denmark, Bahrain, Sweden, Argentina and Qatar.
Earlier in January, Egypt's coach Marawan Ragab announced a 16-man squad, headed by veterans Karim Hendawy and Ahmed El-Ahmaar.
"We are ready for the championship in France. I am not worried about the results of the recent friendly matches, especially as they allowed us to examine some certain points," Ragab told Egyptian media Tuesday.
"Egypt's ambitions have no limits and we have high class players who can achieve good results," he added.
As part of their preparations for the World Championship, the Pharaohs have recently participated in a friendly tournament alongside Denmark, Hungary and Iceland.
Egypt's best ever result at the World Championship was ending the 2001 edition in fourth place. Egypt finished 14th at the 2015 tournament in Qatar.
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