Quarterfinal match between Sweden and Egypt
Denmark became the first country to win the World Handball Championship three times in a row after beating France 34-29 in Stockholm on Sunday.
Egypt beat Hungary 36-35 in extra time to end up in seventh place, their same finish in the 2021 edition. Egypt had slumped to their first defeat at the World Championship after losing to defending champions 30-25 Denmark in the final day of the main round. Egypt, which lost in the quarters to hosts Sweden, missed out on the chance for playing for fifth place after losing to Germany 35-34 after extra-time.
According to the website of the International Handball Federation, the Pharaohs started placement match 7/8 against Hungary on Sunday with a 4-0 unanswered run, but needed four extra-time halves to clinch a 36-35 win after extra-time (17-11; 28-28; 32-32) to end up in seventh place in one of the most dramatic matches at Poland/Sweden 2023.
Despite starting on an emphatic note with a five-match winning streak at the beginning of the 28th World Championship, which was jointly held by Poland and Sweden, the Egyptian team deteriorated with three losses in succession against Denmark, Sweden and Germany, failing to join the semi-final bracket. However, a wakeup call after those sore defeats brought them back from behind against Hungary as they managed to clinch seventh place.
The three defeats that denied Egypt an advanced position gave them a boost and awakened the challenge to join the tops of the world. As reported by the IHF website, the start of the match against Hungary was faultless for the Pharaohs who, four minutes into the game, took an early 4-0 lead after only four minutes, with the line players Mohamed Shebib and Ibrahim Al-Masri working wonders and being impossible to stop by Hungary’s defence.
Another 7-3 run spurred by left back Ali Zein, was also influential in reinforcing Egypt’s total command in the match, with the gap constantly growing to seven goals, 16-9 after 22 minutes, as Hungary were losing control of the match. Some excellent saves from goalkeeper Karim Hendawi, who finished the match with 13 shots stopped and a 34 per cent saving efficiency, helped Egypt stay in front, but Hungary constantly tried to pull goals back. Attack after attack, the European side managed to claw back, even in difficult situations when they were two players down on the court for over 90 seconds due to suspensions.
With 11 seconds to go in the match and with Egypt leading 28-27, Hungary managed to level the score at 28-28 and take the match into extra time.
After 70 minutes, the two teams were still tied, making way for another two five-minutes halves of extra time. Eventually, Egyptian expertise paid off as they snatched a 36-35 win, ending the tournament on a high, with Ali Zein scoring 12 goals. In contrast, goalkeeper Mohamed Ali finished with an excellent 41 per cent saving efficiency. Player of the match was Egypt’s Ahmed Mohamed.
In front of 23,050 fans in the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, Denmark became the first team in history to secure the trophy at the IHF Men’s World Championship three consecutive times after defeating Olympic champions France.
The Danes have now secured their seventh medal in the world handball flagship competition.
Spain wrapped up their second bronze medal in a row with a 39-36 win over hosts Sweden.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 2 February, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly