Egypt and Portugal in battle to end long medal wait

28 Jul. 2019

Egypt and Portugal in battle to end long medal wait

After being defeated in their respective semi-finals at the 2019 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship, Egypt and Portugal will play for bronze on Sunday in the penultimate match in Vigo. 

Both nations have claimed the bronze medal before, though those occasions were long ago – Egypt in 1999 and Portugal in 1995. Egypt also won the title once, in 1993, whereas for Portugal, third place at Spain 2019 would equal their best result at the Junior World Championship. 

Egypt vs Portugal
As Travesas Sports Hall, 14:00 local time

It will be a great match to decide the bronze medal at Spain 2019, as the African champions take on the U20 EHF EURO 2018 semi-finalists. While Egypt had a perfect campaign up until their loss in the semi-final, versus France, Portugal reached the knock-out round from third place in Group C. 

However, as one of their preliminary defeats was at the hands of Croatia, who they lost against in the semi-final on Saturday, it is clear at least that result was not a sign of Portugal’s weakness, but the now finalists’ strength. 

Indeed, Portugal can count on some of the strongest individual performers in the competition. Their starting goalkeeper Diogo Valerio, has been one of the most difficult to beat in the knock-out round in particular. It was he who made the critical last-second save versus Slovenia in the quarter-final, and he played a key role for Portugal as they challenged Croatia in the semi-final. 

Right back Diogo Silva is one of the top scorers at Spain 2019 ahead of the final day, with 70 goals, alongside Slovenia’s Gregor Ocvirk. Ocvirk will play for fifth place before Silva takes the court, and the race for this crown is likely to be between these two as the third top scorer, Croatia’s Ivan Martinovic, counts 53 goals scored. 

Egypt rely on more of a collective effort than Portugal. Their top scorer is Mohsen Ramadan Mahmoud, with 38 goals, highlighting the shared responsibility in attack. Their offensive play is led by centre back Seif Elderaa, who scored three goals in the first 10 minutes of the semi-final before France’s defence essentially silenced him for the rest of the match. At the other end of the court, their goalkeeper Abdelrhman Taha Ali has been crucial, and enters the final day with the third highest number of saves at Spain 2019 – 67. 

Goalkeepers and back courts are therefore likely to be the decisive factor in who leaves Spain with a medal, and who goes home empty-handed.