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Known in advance
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 18 - 02 - 2010

The Egyptian men's handball team predictably made it to the semi-finals of the African Handball Championship, while not surprisingly the women played for fifth place, Inas Mazhar reports
The men's competition is off today as the teams get ready for the semi-finals and placement matches which start Friday 19 February. The women, who had their day off yesterday, will resume work today 18 February when the semi-finals and the placement matches begin in Cairo Stadium's indoor complex.
In the semi-finals, Cote d'Ivoire will face Angola in the first women's semi-final while Algeria and Tunisia will clash in the other semi-final in an all-North African clash. The matches will take place at Cairo Stadium's indoor main and central halls.
The women's qualifying matches the day before determined the teams who will play for the placement matches today. Egypt beat Cameroon 31-27 while Congo defeated Congo DR 29- 24. It was the first win for Egypt's women in the tournament. Having lost only one game and drawn two, Egypt was one of the surprises of the tournament. The win against Cameroon and the play-off for fifth place was an admirable result for such a newly formed team.
President of the Egyptian Handball Federation Hadi Fahmi said he was pleased with the women's results and level of performance despite failing to reach the semi-finals. Fahmi said he believed the team showed promise and "would compete strongly in future African competitions."
According to the rather complicated rules of procedure, Egypt and Congo, winners from the two matches, will meet 18 February for a placement match for fifth and sixth place whereas the losers Cameroon and DR Congo will meet for seventh and eighth place. Only eight teams took part in the women's event.
The men's competition will resume 19 February after the final day of the second round which took place last night. In Group A, in an all-North African match, Algeria took on Tunisia in the final and decisive game of the second round while Morocco faced DR Congo in Group B. In Group C, Nigeria faced Gabon while Libya played Cameroon. The last two matches were played in Suez.
Surprisingly, and for the first time, the championship is witnessing a low spectator turn-out even though it is being played during the mid-year school and university recess, plus the fact that Egypt is winning as usual. However, the main hall of Cairo Stadium's indoor complex, which can take more than 30,000 spectators, has instead seated a few hundred for each game.
Officials are expecting an increase in attendance during the men's semi-finals which will produce tough competition among North African teams Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria who between them have won all previous tournaments, 18 of them. So dominant is North Africa that even before the results are known, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco will more than likely have booked their places in the semi-finals.
The African championship acts as a qualifier for the World Handball Championship, for the men in Sweden next year and the women in Brazil.
President of the International Handball Federation, Egypt's Hassan Mustafa, arrived in Cairo to attend the semis and finals of the tournament.
The final of the men's and women's competitions, as well as the match for third place, will take place on Saturday 20 February in the Cairo Stadium complex.

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