Egypt’s young handballers have now won the African Men’s Handball Junior Championship for an unprecedented 13 times and their second in a row. The Under-20 team received a hero’s welcome from Egypt’s Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi at Cairo International Airport.
According to the International Handball Federation (IHF), Egypt delivered a superb performance in the final game against Algeria to clinch the 29th edition of the championship.
The Pharaohs took the gold medal, thrashing Algeria 35-15, the largest ever margin of victory in the final of the tournament which took place from 20 to 27 August.
Eight teams took part in the championship after the withdrawal of the Central African Republic just before kick-off. The teams were divided into two groups of four teams each.
The round-robin format saw four teams proceeding to the semi-finals. Tunisia topped Group A with three wins. Angola, despite their 25-22 loss to Tunisia, made it to second place.
In Group B, there was no question about the winner. Reigning champions Egypt overpowered their opponents, wrapping up 40-23 wins against Libya and Congo, and 39-27 against Algeria.
Surprisingly, Algeria, who finished second in Group B with four points, eliminated neighbours Tunisia 29-25. Simultaneously, Egypt secured a 33-24 win against Angola to set up another clash with North African opponent Algeria.
The final proved anti-climactic because of the 20-goal difference. Egypt led 16-6 at halftime.
Tunisia earned the bronze medal with a 24-22 win over Angola to see the three North African teams making it to the podium. With a 35-34 victory, Morocco finished in fifth place, after penalties, against Libya. A narrow 35-34 win saw Congo placed seventh, ahead of hosts Rwanda who finished last, with four losses in all four games.
Egypt received praise from the IHF website for being the most decorated team in the history of the competition, with 13 gold medals in 20 editions, followed by Tunisia with 18 medals, four of them gold, and Algeria, with 12 medals. However, Algeria tied their best-ever finish at the championship since 1996 when they also finished second.
The top six ranked teams in the African competition have now earned seats at the 32-team World Juniors Championship scheduled to be held in Germany and Greece from 20 June to 2 July 2023. Competing will be Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Angola, Morocco and Libya. Egypt, as champions, also guaranteed a spot among the top seeded teams when the draw of the World Championship takes place.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 1 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.