Although the Pharaohs fell ina tough Group D, they are so far holding their own. The African champions opened their France 2017 campaign with a 22-20 victory over Qatar. However, in their second match, the Pharaohs lost to Denmark 35-28 to give the Europeans their second decisive win. In its third match against Bahrain, Egypt edged Bahrain 31-29.
Against Bahrain, it was a tough match for the Pharaohs who started off 3-1 but the Bahraini players were slowly able to unlock the Egyptian defence to leap five goals ahead in the absence of tactical awareness.
It wasn’t until nearly the end that Egypt pulled away after goalkeeper Karim Hendawi, who saw limited playing time due to injury, saved a penalty. Egypt’s Yehia Al-Deraa was named player of the match together with Bahrain’s Abdullah Hassan, each scoring six goals.
“Of course I’m so happy to be man of the match,” Al-Deraa said. “I would like to thank my teammates and my coach for helping me. The Bahraini team is strong but we prepared well before the match.”
On playing Argentina in the next match on Wednesday 18 January (after Al-Ahram Weekly went to press) Al-Deraa added, “Argentina are a strong team. They are fast, employ a lot of tactics and many players are professionals in Spain and France. We will have a day off, then we will start to recover and prepare. We will do our best.”
It was a thrilling encounter against Qatar, the runner-up of the previous edition of the World Championship held in Doha 2015.
While Qatar had several players playing in Europe and took an early lead, Egypt came from behind for a morale-boosting opener in their campaign.
The hero of the match was againHendawi who saved 48 per cent of the shots that came his way.
At the AccorHotels Arena, it took Egypt just under 15 minutes to claim the momentum, as the opening quarter of the match saw a see-saw contest. Qatar’s star was left back Rafael Capote who scored with efficiency.
On the other hand, the experienced Ahmed Al-Ahmar made the difference by scoring at crucial times to be named Player of the Match.
Egypt coach Marwan Ragab, a former national team star,expressed his happiness with his team’s first victory. “My players played like men and were up to the challenge. I hope this victory will give us a push to be able to qualify to the coming round.”
“This is our first game in this World Championship, and it’s a good start. We led very early in the game and our defence made the difference,” Mohamed Al-Bassiouni said.
Qatar’s Bertrand Roinesaid,”We didn’t play to the best of our abilities.We knew that we were going to play a very aggressive team with a strong defensive line, so we had to give them some space and create some depth but we failed.”
Denmark, the 2016 Olympic Games gold medalist, played marvelouslyusing various tactics that the Egyptians had no answer to. Still, the Egyptians pressed to tighten the difference in goals that at times reached eight. Thevictory earned the Scandinavian team the top of Group D with four points.
“For us, it was a great game,” Denmark’s Morten Olsen said.“We won with a lot of goals but it was a hard match. Egypt played very well and also played with a very strongdefence. It was a tough match but good for us, we won the game.”
“I think we performed well, considering we played against the Olympic champions,” Egypt’s Mohamed Sanad said.“They’re a very good team, with top players and great coaches. We did our best to keep them as close as we could. They’re one of the favourites to win the World Championship. We played two good games thus far, so now our goal is to reach the quarter-finals.”
Denmark’s Svan’s six goals earned him the Player of the Match award.