Handball: Egypt aim to become 'among top eight' at World Championship

Mohamad Mosselhi , Thursday 12 Jan 2017


Egypt will be seeking to go one better than 2015 when they open their World Championship campaign in France on Friday.

The Pharaohs reached the round of 16 two years ago before losing to powerhouses Germany. They are looking to at least reach the quarter-final this time around. 

They will face Qatar in a tough Group D opener on Friday but can take heart from a recent fine run that saw them win the African Handball Championship on home soil in January 2016. 

Egypt also produced some convincing displays at the Olympic Games last summer, showing that they are on the right track.

"Given our recent performances, I believe that our deserved ranking is to be among the top eight of the World Championship," Egypt keeper Karim Hendawi told Ahram Hebdo on Wednesday.   

Theoretically, Egypt's task to reach the second round will not be difficult.

They were drawn in Group D along with Denmark, Qatar, Sweden, Argentina and Bahrain.

Egypt will be given stiff tests against Olympic champions Denmark and 2015 World Championship runners-up Qatar but they have a good chance to overcome the three other opponents.

The first four teams in each group will advance to the knockout round.

"Our mission in the group will not be easy. Denmark and Qatar are among the best sides of the group while Bahrain and Argentina are promising teams. Our recent positive results against Sweden don't mean that a win against them is guaranteed," Hendawi added.

Egypt are well prepared for the World Championship. They started their preparation with some home training camps before heading to Europe for two camps in Lithuania and Denmark.

Egypt's coach Marwan Ragab announced his 16-man squad for the World Championship that did not include Tayaran duo Mohamed Alaa and keeper Mahmoud Khalil 'Felfel'.

That was somewhat surprising given that Alaa has been a regular member of Egypt's roster since 2009, while Felfel produced fine displays at the Olympic Games and African Championship. 

Ragab explained his decision to drop the duo, saying he picked other players who are better than Alaa.

He also said Felfef is yet to regain his form after recovering from injury.

"We are fully prepared and we are determined to present a good image of Egyptian handball at the World Championship," Ragab added.

Ragab was part of the Egypt side which made history by finishing fourth at the 2001 World Championship in France, the team's best ever position.

He will be eyeing another achievement on the same soil, but this time as a coach.

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