Egypt through to quarter-finals, but questions remain

21 Jan. 2023

Egypt through to quarter-finals, but questions remain

In a sensational performance, goalkeeper Karim Hendawy guided his Egypt side through to the last eight of the 2023 IHF Men's World Championship as they saw off a spirited Bahrain by four (26:22) in their main round clash at the Malmö Arena.

For the time being, the Asian silver medallists and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games quarter-finalists are still in contention but they have to hope for a Denmark loss against the USA later – and that's just the start of the run of results they need. A Belgium win against Croatia in the next match would also help.

However, Egypt will be concerned about a lack of ruthlessness in front of the goal and 13 turnovers.

Main Round Group IV

Bahrain vs Egypt 22:26 (9:13)

In short, Zamalek's Karim Hendawy made the difference in this crucial match for Aron Kristjánsson's Bahrain side.

Likely to be eliminated later on Saturday (21 January) night with reigning champions Denmark likely to beat the United States of America, the Asian side knew that a win was needed to keep alive their hopes for a last-eight place at Poland/Sweden 2023.

And in a very scrappy first half, Bahrain were well on their way. Egypt's Ahmed Mohamed missed the very first chance of the match and this set the tone for most of the opening 30 minutes.

Goal, turnover, save, turnover, technical fault. This was a common theme, with Hendawy being responsible for nearly all the first-half saves.

The two teams managed 12 saves between them in that opening period, with Hendawy making 10 of them and Bahrain's goalkeeping pair registering just one each. Hendawy was sitting on a 56% save rate and Bahrain, who seemed to take ages with every attack, could not find a way through.

A ripped shirt of Egyptian line player Ibrahim El-Masry was maybe evidence of the fight in defence. Still, eight turnovers from the African champions in the first half must not have pleased their coach Roberto Parrondo.

But Egypt did break free despite their attempts to sabotage their attack, an Ali Zein 107km/h rocket putting his side three up (11:8) after a run. This resulted in Kristjánsson taking his first time out, where he could be heard talking about a tactical play called 'Cairo', or at least it sounded like that.

Whether Kristjánsson used Egypt's capital city as a tactic or not, his side fell further behind in the second half, down by seven (11:18) relatively early (37th minute).

Egypt were cruising and Kristjánsson took his time out and sprung an open, 3-3 defence on his opponents on the other side and slowly they came back, moving within three (21:24) in the 56th minute, despite Parrondo taking an earlier time out.

But Egypt came back and ensured victory, both coaches no doubt looking at 100 attacks in total in the match (51 for Bahrain and 49 for Egypt), but counting less than half of those converted into attacks.

"It was a nice match for the spectators and I'm happy for the victory because this means that we are qualified for the quarter-finals and this is the most important thing," said Parrondo. "We made 13 turnovers today, a lot of mistakes, technical fouls, we couldn't play really well in attack.

"The last 10 minutes of the first half we increased our intensity, got more focused and could get a small gap. Even though we didn't play our best match, we could play with a good distance."

"There's always something special when two Arabic teams meet," added Kristjánsson. "We started very well in our 5-1 defence and created problems for Egypt, but Hendawy was saving many chances. 

"When they went seven ahead, we went 3-3 and could surprise them a little bit, but in the end we lost too many good chances."

The result means that Egypt stay on course to at least equal their home soil ranking of seventh back in 2021, and Hendawy could not be happier.

"This is good for us and Egypt," said the goalkeeper about making the quarter-finals. "Last time we were there and this time it is the same, it is big. We need to enjoy it but we also need to work and hope we will do our best."

His opposite number Mohamed Ali, who could only make one save, summed up the match perfectly,

"He killed us," said the Al Najma player about the performance from Hendawy.

hummel Player of the Match: Karim Hendawy (Egypt)