Nigeria’s contingent to the 25th African Men’s Senior Handball Championship which ended in Cairo, Egypt on Monday night are safely back in the country.
The team otherwise called the Golden Arrows; made up of 15 Players, 3 Coaches headed by France-based Rafiu Salami, Technical Director of the Federation, Bala Mohammed and a Team Doctor; flew out from Abuja, on July 9th aboard an Air Egypt flight.
Having failed to make it out of their Group that included semi-finalists, Tunisia and Cape Verde Nigeria had played and won two classification matches against Zambia, and Senegal to earn the right to play for the President’s Cup against the Panthers of Gabon.
The match which is also a classification game for 9th and 10th position ended in favour of the Gabonese, who lifted the President’s Cup, reserved for sides that failed to make it to the last eight; while Nigeria finished in a disappointing 10th, the same position the team finished in their last outing in 2019.
Prior to their departure to Egypt the players, officials and Board of the Nigeria Handball Federation felt hard-done by the Sports Ministry, which did not give the team, a dime, to prepare and represent Nigeria in a tournament that is equivalent of the Africa Cup of Nations in football.
In other classification matches; the Desert Foxes of Algeria secured the last available World Championship ticket, at the expense of the Sylli Stars of Guinea who they defeated narrowly 27-26 in the last classification game.
Angola lost 28-30 to DR Congo in the 7th and 8th spot classification match.
In the classification game for 11 & 12 Cameroun lost the battle of two-Lions 38 to 39 to Senegal, after a shootout; leaving Zambia to bring up the rare in 13th position.
Meanwhile, Egypt defeated Cape Verde 37-25 on Monday night in Cairo to claim their eighth African Men’s Senior Championship title, which was also their second in a row.
The hosts also achieved a new scoring record in the final after scoring 37 goals, breaking their own record of 31 goals in the 2004 final.
Egypt’s Omar El Wakeel won the Man of the Match Award after an outstanding performance in the final.
Surprise package, the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde made it to the final for the first time in their history after upsetting Morocco in the semis to become the first team not from North Africa to reach the final game; that is since 1981 when Algeria defeated Cote d’Ivoire 30-25 in the final, played in Tunis.
In their debut in the 2020 edition, they finished fifth in the competition that took place in Tunisia.
On the other hand, Egypt kicked off their tournament, with a 40-27 win over Cameroun before beating Morocco 36-21 to top Group A with maximum points.
They then routed Algeria 34-19 in the quarters before earning a hard-fought 29-27 win against traditional rivals and record title holders the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia (10-time champions).
In fact, the Pharaohs who were 4th at the last World Cup could even get closer in 2024, given that Egypt will be hosting that edition too.
The Atlas Lions of Morocco finished third after beating Tunisia 28-24 in the bronze medal contest. Yehia Khaled of Egypt won the Most Valuable Player of the tournament Award.
Egypt, Cape Verde, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria will go on to represent Africa, at the 2023 IHF World Championship, to be cohosted by Poland and Sweden.
Reporting by Chinedum Ohanusi; editing by Adeniyi Bakare