27 April - 3 May 2000
Issue No. 479
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Special Features Travel Living Sports Profile People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters
Mini-victoryFUTSAL's (five-a-side) national side football players won the African championship and qualified for the sport's World Cup, to be held in Guatemala in November, after trouncing South Africa 18-2. Only four African teams took part in the qualifications with Egypt finishing first, Morocco second, Libya third and South Africa fourth. Egypt was crowned champion after topping the standings with nine points from three victories in which it edged Morocco 3-2, outclassed Libya 9-1 and demolished South Africa. Egypt's Sayed Abdel-Naiem was top scorer while teammate Ayman Abdel-Rahman was selected best goalkeeper. Morocco's Abdel-Ilah was selected best player. Egypt was the ninth country to qualify for the World Cup, following in the footsteps of title holders Brazil, host nation Guatemala, Australia, Spain, Holland, Russia, Croatia and Portugal. Egypt won the first African championship, held in Cairo in 1996, and played in the World Cup in Spain where it finished in 12th place out of 16 after being knocked out in the first round.
Ahmed Osman, head of the futsal committee, said that even though Egypt won the African Cup, "we still need time, effort and money to be spent on the game in order to improve. Because of our budget, we have no chance abroad, but we don't want a repeat of Spain," when the team relied heavily on aging former football stars whose glory days had long passed them by. "We will ask the federation to provide us with a budget that will allow us to better prepare the team for the World Cup," Osman said.
Pool perfectEGYPT's synchronised swimming duo, twins Sara and Heba Abdel-Gawad, are going to the Sydney Olympics after Egypt placed 18 out of 36 countries in an international qualifier in Australia. The top 24 countries made it to the Summer Games. The sisters, 18, are students at the American University in Cairo. According to Sophie Sarwat, head of the Synchronised Swimming Committee at the Egyptian Swimming Federation, the pair are perfect in every way: dedicated, disciplined, motivated and, above all, modest. Sarwat said the girls had trained hard under coach Lamia Mukhtar and had entered the qualifications fully prepared. She also thanked the Gezira Sporting Club and the Synchro Friends Society who sponsored the girls' training and travel costs.
Not that easyTHE EGYPTIAN Bowling Federation will organise the first Sinai Open Arab Bowling Championship as part of the Armed Forces' celebration of Sinai Liberation Day. Thirteen Arab countries are taking part in the five-day event at the Armed Forces Bowling Centre. Mohamed Wagdi, head of the technical committee and head coach of the Egyptian national team, says the game is not as easy as it looks. "I believe it is one of the hardest games in the world. Throwing a bowling ball down an alley to hit pins looks easy but when you actually do it you soon discover otherwise. Today, you can be a champion and the next day you're not."
Wagdi said he will be looking to Ahmed Khattab, Amr El-Saadani, Amr Essam, Tarek Helmi, Sherine El-Gohari, Lama El-Sharkawi and Suzanne El-Ezabi for victory. The winner in the men's event will be awarded a gold medal and a $5,000 cheque while $3,000 awaits the best female. Second place winners will receive a silver medal and $3,000; $2,000 goes to the second woman. Third place winners will receive a bronze medal and $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.
Testing groundAFTER 10 days of training in Romania, Egypt's gymnasts decided to see how well their efforts paid off by entering the Romanian 28-nation International Championship, regarded as one of the most challenging in the sport. Egypt didn't do too badly as Walid Said won a gold medal on the rings, scoring 9,470 points, surpassing gymnasts from far stronger countries, most notably Romania, China, Russia, the Ukraine, France, England, Bulgaria and Hungary. The 1997 Mediterranean Games gold medalist Raouf Abdel-Karim won the bronze medal on the horse vault, scoring 925 points. The national team now heads for Brazil where they will join the host team in joint training sessions to be followed by the Brazilian championship.