The African Handball Nations Championship will be held in Egypt from 21 to 30 January, which is the qualifier for the Olympics.
Under the umbrella of 2016 Rio’s Summer Olympics, several competitions are held worldwide to select the participating champions.
This championship will not only be the qualifier for the Olympic Games but also for the World Men’s Handball Championship in France from 11 to 27 January 2017.
Egyptian Handball Federation (EHF) President Khaled Hamouda said this is not the first time Egypt hosts the championship, since it was the host in 2004 and 2010 and hosted the World Men’s Handball Championship in 1999. It is also expected to host the World Men’s Handball Championship 2021 as well.
Egyptian Minister of State for Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel Aziz confirmed his awareness of the importance of handball for the Egyptian audience, and that it is the second most popular sport in Egypt. Abdel Aziz expressed his hope for the Egyptian national team to achieve a continental title in this championship to be qualified for the Rio Olympics.
Egyptian President of the International Handball Federation Hassan Mostafa, headquartered in the Swiss City of Basel, highlighted the role played by the African Handball Confederation in developing Africa’s handball levels to its best level through their continuous effort, creativity, and organising strong competitions, which benefits the sport on an international scale.
The Egyptian national men’s handball team, along with its technical director Marawan Ragab, recently won Egypt’s International Handball Championship, organised by EHF in the Cairo Stadium, thanks to its win over South Korea’s national men’s handball team in the final match (31-30).
In its first matches against Bahrain, Egypt won with 26-21 over Oman in its second match with 37-27. Winning Egypt’s International Handball championship is a significant victory, as the Egyptian national team is now qualified for the African Handball Nations Championship.
Ahmed El-Ahmar, who plays for the Al-Zamalek SC handball team and for the Egyptian national handball team, played an important role in winning many of the Egyptian team’s titles. Individually, El-Ahmar won the title for Best Back Right in Africa in the 2004 African Handball Nations Championship.
In the 2008 African Handball Nations Championship in Angola, he won the titles of Best Back Right, Best Player, Best Scorer, and Man of the Match four times. Also, in the 2010 African Handball Nations Championship, he won the titles for Best Back Right, Best Player, and Best Scorer.
On the Arab scale, El-Ahmar won Best Player in the 2011 Arabic Championship in Saudi Arabia. Internationally, he received the best scorer in the 2010 World Cup for Clubs. Throughout the World Cups celebrated, he received the title of Man of the Match in several occasions, thanks to his performance in the following matches: Egypt versus Spain (2007), Egypt versus Tunisia (2009), Egypt versus Tunisia (2011), Egypt versus Algeria (2013), Egypt versus Slovenia (2013), Egypt versus Sweden (2015), and Egypt versus Algeria (2015).
Egypt has a great history in African handball since its national team won five out of the 21 African Handball Nations Championships held since 1974 until 2014. Egypt was the champion in 1991, 1992, 2000, 2004 and, 2008. The strongest rivals for Egypt in this sport are Algeria and Tunisia. Tunisia won these competitions, held every two years, nine times in 1974, 1976, 1979, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2012. Algeria, which won the 2014’s competitions, also won in 1996 and achieved five consecutive gold medals in these competitions in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989.
Egypt’s share of silver medals in the African Handball Nations Championships was notable since the national men’s handball team came in second place five times in 1979, 1985, 1987, 1989, and 2010. In the 2014’s competitions, it won bronze medal. Egypt also received these competitions’ bronze medal five times in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2002, and 2012.
Algeria won the silver medal in 1976, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2012 and the bronze medal in 1979, 1992, 2008, and 2010. Tunisia were these competitions’ runners up in 1992, 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2014 and was third place in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, and 2000.
On an Arab scale, Egypt’s national handball men’s team won the Pan Arab Games six times in 1992, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007, and 2011. It also won the All-Africa Games seven times in 1965, 1991, 1995, 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015 and managed to acquire these competitions’ silver medal twice in 1973 and 1999 and the bronze medal once in 1987.
Internationally, it won in the 2001 World Men’s Handball Championship in France, where France acquired the gold medal and Sweden came in second place. Egypt came in fourth place after Yugoslavia in third place. Getting fourth place was not easy for Egypt since it faced some of the strongest handball teams in the world.
Egypt’s national team’s significant victory was the handball tournaments in the 2013 Mediterranean Games in Adana, Turkey. Its most competitive rivals were Algeria and Tunisia. Croatia acquired second place and Turkey in third but Algeria and Tunisia failed to receive first, second, or third medals. In the 1991 Mediterranean Games in Athens, Greece, Yugoslavia won the gold medal and Egypt the silver medal. In the Mediterranean Games in 1979, 1993, 1997, and 2005, Egypt’s national men’s handball team finished in sixth, fourth, sixth, and fifth places, respectively.
Another notable international victory for Egypt’s national junior handball team was the handball competitions at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore: South Korea finished in second place and France in third.