Wednesday,15 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1263, (17 - 30 September 2015)
Wednesday,15 August, 2018
Issue 1263, (17 - 30 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Could have been better

The Ahly handball team took fifth place in the 2015 Super Globe in Qatar but insist they could have gone farther. Mohamed Abdel-Razak reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Irritated by the new tournament system, Egypt’s Ahly were knocked out of the quarter-finals of the handball clubs world cup, the Super Globe, by the mighty Barcelona before deservedly beating Club Africain to settle for fifth place.  

Ahly started the tournament with the lowest rank among the participating teams, according to the International Handball Federation (IHF). The tournament system was changed, this time to be based on knockouts rather than evenly distributing the teams between two groups in the first stage, then allowing four teams to qualify for the semis and two for the final. The other two would play for third place.

However, with only eight teams participating this year, the new system seemed to be the only way out for the IHF, a fact which made things tougher on the Egyptian team. “If we had the usual tournament system we would have gone farther in this tournament,” Ahly winger Omar Al-Wakil, or Bakar, said.   

The Egyptian Red Devils started their tournament by facing the Brazilian side Esporte Clube Taubate. The mix of generations within the Ahly team had its obvious effect across the court in this fixture, with youth represented in Ali Zain and Ahmed Hossam. The veterans were in the form of Mamdouh Taha, Mohamed “Boudi” Abdel-Rahman, Mohamed Ibrahim and Ibrahim Al-Masri. The chemistry was just perfect for the job. The half time score was 16 - 11 for the Egyptian team with clear dominance, however, in the second half the Brazilians came back in the game. Still, Ahly held them off for an opening fixture win 28 - 24.

In their second fixture, Ahly had to face Barcelona, one of the strongest teams in the tournament and the world. Surprisingly, the score stayed tight between the two teams during the entire match. In the first half the Egyptians kept their defences tight to reach half time behind 12 - 8.

Pushing and trying their best, the team started the second half of the game with hopes they could get closer, but the gap stayed the same with four goals. Ahly lost 20 - 16. Regardless of the defeat, most Ahly players turned heads around in the stands after they showed their talents and power like that of Taha who was linked with an offer from Barcelona after the match.

Ahly had one more match to go before flying back to Cairo. Club Africain is a Tunisian team they knew very well. They also knew something else.

“Ahly is one of the biggest teams in the region and we have a great history in this tournament,” said Tarek Al-Sayed, Ahly coach.

Indeed, Ahly have a great track record in this tournament since it was established in 1997, finishing second in 2007, the best performance by any African or Arab team. With that in mind, Ahly players went into the game against Club Africain aiming for the win which would reserve fifth place for them. It seemed, though, that the Tunisians were as determined as the Egyptians who went at their North African opponents toe to toe. Each team was eager to make sure every opportunity was used right, and with both defences standing on their toes and Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed Ali performing like a hero for his mates, the score at half time was tied  9 - 9 .

The second half saw the same but Ahly had a little bit extra which made the difference in the end, granting them a well deserved 20 - 17 win. 
1-Fuchse Berlin (Germany) Winner
2- MKB Veszprem (Hungary) Runner-up
3- FC Barcelona (Spain) Third
4- Sydney University (Australia) Fourth

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