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Handball heroes
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 27 - 01 - 2015

Though Egypt's men's handball team succeeded in advancing to round 16 of the World Men's Handball Championship in Doha, Qatar, it then suffered a 23-16 defeat at the hands of Germany on Monday, eliminating Egypt from the World Championship and removing it from the competition.
The first half of the game ended in a 12-8 difference in Germany's favour, but the gap widened to 17-8 early in the second half during which Germany played very effectively.
As a result of its victory over Egypt in the game, the German team qualified as the champion of Group D, topping the Group by winning four games and drawing one. Egypt ended its bid in fourth place in Group C, having won twice, lost twice, and drawn in one game.
The German team has won the World Championship three times, in 1938, 1978 and 2007, the silver medal four times in 1954, 1970, 1974 and 2003, and the bronze medal three times in 1958, 1978 and 1986. The best result from a non-European team thus far has been Egypt's fourth place in France in 2001 and Tunisia's fourth place at home in 2005.
In Group A of the Qatar championships, Spain has maintained first place followed by Qatar, Slovenia and Brazil. On day seven, Brazil beat Slovenia 35-32, Belarus defeated Chile 34-23, and Qatar lost to Spain 25-28. On day nine, Brazil defeated Chile 30-22, Spain beat Slovenia 30-26, and Qatar lost its match against Belarus 22-26.
In Group B, Croatia is at the top of the group ahead of Macedonia, Austria and Tunisia. On day five, Macedonia won against Bosnia-Herzegovina 25-22, Iran lost its match against Croatia 22-41, and Qatar, Austria and Tunisia drew 25-25. On day seven, Austria defeated Iran 38-26, Slovenia won against Brazil 35-32, Tunisia beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 27-24, and Croatia beat Macedonia 29-26. On day nine, Tunisia defeated Iran 30-23, Croatia beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 28-21, and Macedonia defeated Austria 36-31.
In Group C, France tops the group ahead of Sweden, Egypt and Iceland. On day six, Egypt defeated the Czech Republic 27-24. Thanks to good performances during preceding matches and despite the defeat against France, Egypt played exceptionally well against the Czechs.
Also in Group C, Poland beat Russia 26-25, France and Iceland drew 26-26, and Sweden beat Algeria 27-19. On day eight, Egypt drew against Sweden, the match ending 25-25. Sweden, a great team with a rich history (four times world champion, four times champion of Europe and vice Olympic champion in 2012), could not defeat the Pharaohs. France also beat Algeria 32-26, and the Czech Republic defeated Iceland 36-25. On day 10, Iceland beat Egypt 28-25, the Czech Republic beat Algeria 36-20, and France won against Sweden 27-25.
In Group D, Germany finished top of the group followed by Denmark, Poland and Argentina. On day six, Argentina beat Saudi Arabia 32-20, Poland beat Russia 26-25, and Denmark and Germany drew 30-30. On day eight, Germany defeated Argentina 28-23, Saudi Arabia lost against Poland 13-32, and Denmark beat Russia 31-28. On day 10, Argentina defeated Russia 30-27, Saudi Arabia lost against Germany 19-36, and Denmark defeated Poland 31-27.
Vice-president of the Qatar 2015 Organising Committee and Qatar Handball Association (QHA) president Ahmad al-Shaabi said that “everyone can feel very proud of the performances in this year's Championship. Every team has fought hard in every game, and the support of some of the fans has been incredible. We have three teams from the Arab world who have qualified for the next round, and we hope this will encourage young people across the region to get involved in handball.”
The key element for Al-Shaabi – the ingredient that propels the teams to achieve the best possible results – is the support of home fans turning up to cheer their handball heroes on. He urged people in Qatar to attend the upcoming matches and to raise the roof in order to encourage the players.
Handball fans from across the Arab world from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Algeria were also out in force to support their national teams during their matches in Qatar.
Thousands of Egyptian fans living in Qatar were keen to attend the matches and support their team. They filled the stadium with their cheers, chanting songs, banging drums and waving flags celebrating the Pharaohs' earlier victories over their rivals.
Handball is a very popular sport in Egypt, evident from the number of Egyptian nationals coming to show their support for the team in Qatar.
An Egyptian national who lives in Doha, Mohamed Mustafa, a big fan of Cairo's Zamalek Sporting Club, said he attended every Egyptian sporting match in Qatar.
“All of the Egyptians in Qatar went to the stadium to watch and support our team against Algeria,” he said. “The performance of the Egyptian team was magnificent.”

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