Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1300, (16 - 22 June 2016)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1300, (16 - 22 June 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Handball has a plan

The Egyptian Handball Federation launched final preparations for the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, reports Inas Mazhar

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The build-up to the Olympics for Egyptian handballers started weeks ago and will continue until the Games begin on 5 August.

According to Effat Rashad, head of the Egyptian Federation’s technical committee, phase one saw 24 handball players being assembled for a closed training camp at the Northern Coast of Egypt until 5 June. “Phase two will take place during Ramadan, three days after the end of the first camp, up until 5 July, but this time the camp will be held in three cities -- Ismailia, Cairo and Alexandria,” Rashad told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“Then the preparations will get more serious and tougher by phase three as the players travel for training in Croatia and Denmark from 8 July to 20 July, where they will play three friendly matches.

“By the end of the third phase, the players will be cut from 24 to 16, those who will take part in the Olympics. Based on their performance during the first three phases, head coach Marawan Ragab will select the best players for the Olympics. The team will then fly to France for another camp from 21 to 25 July where they will play two friendly matches with French squads.

“Then comes the final phase where the national team will head directly from France to Brazil before the Olympics start. The last training camp is from 26 July to 4 August in which the team will play three matches, yet to be arranged, probably with other teams participating in the Olympics, “Rashad told the Weekly.

African champion Egypt was placed in Group B in the Olympic draw that took place in April. The group also includes the host nation, Brazil, who chose to join Group B together with surprise Euro 2016 winners Germany, Sweden, Slovenia and Poland. Group A saw the defending Olympic and world champions France facing Qatar, the 2015 runners-up, which means that the finalists of the 2015 Men’s World Championship will meet again, but this time in Rio. Group A also includes Argentina, Croatia, Denmark and Tunisia.

According to Rashad, the draw was good and fair. “I think the group is balanced. The most important thing is that we are not in the same group with our Arab friends Tunisia and Qatar as such matches are very sensitive. Now, they can be avoided at least in the first stage.

“This is not the first time we play in the Olympics, and we have taken part in all world championships,” Rashad said. “We know all these teams by heart. So, we will go to the tournament and take it one game at a time.”

He said that although Egypt missed the last Olympic Games, “over the last few years the national team has shown impressive progress, as seen when Egypt won the African Championships in January here in Cairo and qualified for the Olympics”.

Egypt took part in five Olympic Games as Africa’s representative in handball: Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. The Pharaoh’s highest placement was in Atlanta when they finished sixth. The team missed London 2012, but is hoping for a comeback in Rio 2016.

The draw for the men’s and women’s Olympic competition was held at the Future Arena in the Olympic Park of Barre de Tijuca, which will be home of the handball competition during the Games. It took place before the first match of the Aquece Rio handball men’s tournament, which serves as a test event for the Olympic handball tournament.

Per Bertelsen, acting chairman of the International Handball Federation (IHF) Organising Commission, and former Brazil national player Zeze Sales, conducted the draw for the women’s teams. Bruno Souza, former player on Brazil’s men’s team, assisted First Vice President of the IHF Miguel Roca with the draw of the men’s teams.

Twelve teams in each gender category qualified for the Rio Olympics and are divided into two groups of six, each according to their pre-determined performance rows. The draw started with row six and worked up to one, with the host nation having the right to choose which group it goes into. Row four, which featured Brazil, was determined last.

According to the IHF official website, the women’s draw brought some interesting results. In Group A, defending Olympic, world and European champions Norway will face host Brazil, Angola, Spain, Montenegro and Romania, who finished third at the 2015 World Championship in Denmark and against whom they played in the semi-finals of the Word Championship.

In Group B, the surprise team of the last women’s World Championship, The Netherlands, will compete against Asian champions South Korea, Argentina, Sweden, Russia and France.

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