Egypt will be eyeing a spot at the Olympic Games when it hosts the 22nd edition of the Handball African Championship, which is taking place from 21-30 January.
Egypt, who won five continental titles, was drawn in Group A with Algeria, Morocco, Gabon, Cameroon and Nigeria while Group B includes Tunisia, Angola, Congo, DR Congo, Libya and Kenya.
"The competition will be very tough between Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria as the other teams are far behind those three," Egypt's star Ahmed El-Ahmar told Ahram online on Wednesday.
The North African trio has dominated competition since the inaugural edition in 1974. Algeria won nine titles, Tunisia seven and Egypt five.
"It is true that the competition will be very tough with the presence of Algeria and Tunisia but we are determined to win the title and reach the Olympics," the Zamalek player added.
The African champions will represent the continent at the Olympics while the three first teams will qualify for next year's World Championship in France.
Given their promising displays at the last World Championship in 2015, the Pharaohs can realistically hope of an African triumph.
Egypt won its last African title in 2008 and its last participation in the Olympics was in the same year.
According to El-Ahmar, playing at home will be a good advantage for Egypt who had sufficient preparations for the African Championship.
The team started its preparation last summer with some home training camps before moving to Europe, including in Latvia and Lithuania, where it played Russia and Belarus.
Egypt won a friendly tournament in Cairo this month that also included Oman, Bahrain and North Korea.
''We fully prepared for the African Championship in Europe. We faced teams that adopted the same system of Tunisia's defence while North Korea's style is so close to Algeria's especially in their advanced defence and pacy attacks," El-Ahmar added.
"With this good preparation I believe that we are ready to produce fine displays in the African Championship and win it."
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