Egypt suffered their first defeat in the World Handball Championship after losing to defending champions Denmark 30-25 on Monday but still have a shot at the semi-finals.
The Danish team ended the Egyptian winning streak at the World Championship currently being held jointly between Poland and Sweden, in the main draw of the three-week event. The Pharaohs, who had already secured their place in the quarter-finals before the game, finished second in their group with eight points, one point behind Denmark.
Denmark led 17-12 at the half in a match in which they were never behind.
Denmark’s Simon Pytlick was selected Man of the Match after scoring eight goals.
According to the International Handball Federation, the Danes’ victory also marked a moment in the history of the Men’s World Championship as Denmark have now joined France with the longest unbeaten streak in the championship. From 2015-2019 France were not defeated in 25 games, and from 2019 to the present, Denmark have now joined them – in fact, Denmark’s coach Nikolaj Jacobsen has not lost a world championship match as national coach since taking over in 2017.
Egypt and Denmark now move to Stockholm for the quarter-finals. Egypt were scheduled to face another tough Scandinavian team, co-hosts Sweden, on Wednesday. The last encounter of the two teams was at the Tokyo Olympic Games where Egypt beat the Swedes 27-22. Also on Wednesday, Denmark will take on Hungary - the last team to beat them in a world championship, back in the last 16 at France 2017.
The main round of this championship concluded on Monday with six matches scheduled in Katowice and Malmö. In Group III, Germany and Norway already qualified for the knockout phase, but the winner of the group will get Spain, while the second-placed side will face France. Germany can also afford a draw when they face the Scandinavian side in the last match of the group.
In Group IV, Egypt already qualified and Denmark have a two-point advantage over Croatia after drawing the match against the European side. Had Egypt won the group they could have avoided the hosts Sweden.
Before losing to Denmark, Egypt beat Bahrain 26-22. Thanks to an extraordinary performance by goalkeeper Karim Hendawi, Egypt saw off a spirited Bahrain in their main round clash at the Malmö Arena.
“It was a nice match for the spectators and I’m happy for the victory because this means that we qualified for the quarter-finals and this is the most important thing,” Egypt’s Spanish head coach Roberto Parrondo told the IHF website following the game against Bahrain. “We made 13 turnovers today, a lot of mistakes, technical fouls, we couldn’t play really well in attack.
“The last 10 minutes of the first half we increased our intensity, got more focused and could get a small gap. Even though we didn’t play our best match, we could play with a good distance,” Parrondo said.
“This is good for us and Egypt,” said Hendawi, Player of the Match, about making the quarter-finals. “The last time we were there and this time it is the same; it is big. We need to enjoy it but we also need to work and hope we will do our best.”
The Pharaohs are looking to reach the semi-final for the first time since 2001 when they finished fourth in France.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 January, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.