Handball: Egypt eye Olympics spot as Nations Cup kicks off in Tunisia

Mohamad Mosselhi , Wednesday 15 Jan 2020

Handball World Championship - Germany & Denmark 2019 - Main Round - Group 2 - Egypt v Denmark - Herning, Denmark - January 21, 2019. Ahmed El-Ahmar of Egypt and Henrik Mollgaard of Denmark in action. (REUTERS)

Egypt will be looking to secure their place in the summer Olympic Games when they start their Africa Cup of Nations campaign as the tournament kicks off in Tunisia on Thursday.

The title winners will represent Africa at the Tokyo Games while the runners-up will take part in a play-off tournament that also qualifies for the Olympics.

The Pharaohs, who won six continental titles, were drawn in Group A with DR Congo, Guinea and Kenya. They start their campaign with an easy test against Kenya.

On paper, Egypt should not have any problems neither in the group stage nor in the main round given the gulf in class between them and their main competitors in the tournament, with the exception of hosts Tunisia.

Ten-time winners Tunisia are the defending champions and they are deemed Egypt's main challengers for the title.

Given their promising displays at the last World Championship in 2019, the Pharaohs can realistically hope of an African triumph.

They finished eighth in the World Championship, their best outcome since their fourth-place finish at the 2001 edition in France.

Several players shone at last year's edition, especially the veteran Ahmed El-Ahmar, Yehya El-Dera and Ali Zein, whose form suggests that Egypt are on the right track.

The excellent results of Egypt's youth teams last summer also indicate that the country is heading in the right direction. The U-21 team finished third at the World Championship while the U-19 were crowned world champions.

Six players from the two teams were included in Egypt's squad for the Nations Cup, including Ahmed Hesham, who was named best player at the U-19 tournament.

Egypt started their preparations for the Nations Cup last summer with some home training camps before moving to Europe, including to Serbia and Sweden, where they faced the two teams twice.

They look well-equipped to win the title that they lost in the previous edition in Gabon.

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