Friday,17 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1256, (30 July - 5 August 2015)
Friday,17 August, 2018
Issue 1256, (30 July - 5 August 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Junior Pharaohs thrill in Brazil

Egypt’s young handballers started red hot in the 2015 World Cup in Brazil with three precious wins and a draw in one of the most difficult groups of the tournament, to secure the next round. Mohamed Abdel-Razek reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Beating Uruguay in the opening match of the group stage on 21 July was an ideal start for the Egyptian team, lead by the talented coach Wa’el Abdel-Ati. It was very important for Abdel-Ati to capture every point possible before facing Brazil, the host team, and the mighty Germany, with solid feet on the ground. “It is a very difficult group, but my players are in the right mood for the tournament and I studied our opponents very well,” Abdel-Ati said.

Proving Egypt’s coach right, the young Pharaohs flew past Uruguay in the first match with a solid score of 37-20. It was the perfect start, but the tough stuff was still to come. Japan was the next fixture for the Egyptians hoping they could get another two points before facing Brazil. Unfortunately, a 27-27 draw was their destiny after a game that showed equal terms between the teams.

The third fixture for Egypt was Brazil, the host. With 4,000 spectators watching the match between the Samba and the Pharaohs, the pressure was doubled on the Egyptians. The two teams went into the match toe-to-toe, with the first half ending with the Egyptians up front 17-16.

Surprisingly the Egyptian juniors appeared to be comfortable playing in front of the huge numbers of fans who cheered their team on in one of the fiercest matches of the competition. The Brazilians started to defend their six-metre line wildly to the extent that Mohab Hossam went to hospital with a broken nose and a concussion.

Despite the setback, Abdel-Ati managed to calm his team down. The match kept on its see-saw pace up to the last 30 seconds with the score 31-31. The Egyptians kept passing the ball patiently before finding the opening in the last five seconds of the game to capture the two points with a decisive goal, deflating the Brazilian crowd in the stands.

The next day, Egypt had to face another stern challenge, the mighty Germans. Obviously drained from the clash with Brazil, the Pharaohs struggled but still held their ground before going down 29-24, keeping Germany at the top of the table.

With only one match left against Norway, Egypt had no other choice other than to win in order to qualify.

The Pharaohs went into the game full of energy and determined to stay in Brazil a little bit longer. The motivation seemed to be enough to grab a solid 31-21 win against the Norwegians, securing second place in the tough group behind Germany in the pole and in front of the Brazilians in third.

However, after Germany drew with Brazil, the hosts moved to second. At the time of writing, Egypt were third in the group.

Egypt will face Korea in Round 16.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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