Handball Web Streaming this Week (15 to 17 June 2021): 4 WC Ticket Matches in Africa

4 World Championship Slots on the Line in Africa

  • More information on where to find web streams for National Team, Professional Club and USA Competitions: Link
  • For regular updates on when and where handball matches can be streamed online follow Team Handball News on social media: Twitter Facebook Instagram

All times are CET which is 6 hours ahead of US ET. Odds courtesy of Bet MGM and/or OddsPortal.

Most of the professional club leagues have finished the season and to the best of my knowledge there are no mid week matches available for viewing on line.

In Cameroon, the 2021 African Women’s Handball Championships are taking place and some of the matches have been available for viewing online, either on the CAHB Facebook Page or on the Cameroon TV webpage. On Tuesday, the quarterfinals are taking place and since Africa has 4 tickets to the World Championships these matches are also de facto WC qualification matches.

Unfortunately, so far, the videos on the Facebook Page have been a bit sporadic in terms of availability and Cameroon TV has shown only matches with Cameroon play. Hopefully, this will change. Check back for updates.

  • African Handball Federation Webpage: Link
  • 2021 African Women’s Handball Championships (Wikipedia): Link
  • Videos of matches already played: Link

Where is Handball Popular? And, Just How Popular is Handball Compared to Other Sports?: Africa

  • This is part of an ongoing series. Check out these maps for other continents
    • Europe: Link
    • North America & the Caribbean: Link
    • South and Central America (In development)
    • Asia (In development)
    • Oceania (In development)
Handball’s Popularity in Africa

Some Notes on Handball in Africa

This assessment for Africa was a bit more challenging than the European assessment. Here are some notes as to why and how I put together this map.

  • I’ve received less feedback and have less of a sense as to the popularity of sports in Africa.
  • With less resources available, there are fewer team sports (beyond soccer) played in Africa. Or, if they are played they are not played on the same scale that they are played in Europe. Accordingly, determining the 2nd or 3rd most popular sport in some nations is a pointless exercise. Or, roughly similar to comparing the popularity of the 4th or 5th most popular sports in nations with more resources.
  • I reviewed national team participation and performance in the African Men’s and Women’s Championships as a way to help measure handball’s popularity in a country. This is an imperfect tool, but it does provide some insight as to a sports popularity. Roughly this equates to
    • Regular medal winner (blue/green)
    • Regularly participated (yellow)
    • Periodically participated (orange)
    • Infrequently or never participated, but has played in IHF Trophy events (red)
    • Never participated, including IHF Trophy events (white)

  • Where is handball popular?
  • How popular is handball compared to other sports?

Those are definitely a couple of questions that I’ve been asked quite a few times. In 2005 I tackled those questions in one of my very first blog posts. Back then it was often stated that handball was the 2nd most popular team sport. Well, it would be totally awesome if that were true, but alas it’s not… not even close. In fact, even in Europe where handball is most popular there are only a handful of countries where our sport definitely takes 2nd place.

Methodology (or the Lack of One)

As an engineer I generally prefer to deal with data as opposed to gut feelings and anecdotal information. For sure there are a lot of different criteria that one could use to measure popularity. Here’s a laundry list for you:

  • # of participants
  • # of registered federation members
  • # of clubs
  • Attendance at matches
  • Frequency of TV broadcasts and ratings
  • Existence of a professional league
  • The salaries of professional players
  • Interest in national team performance
  • Social media interest.

Each of those criteria have merit, but there are several problems.

  • This data is not readily available on a country by country basis
  • The accuracy of the data that is available is often suspect or open to interpretation
  • The relative importance of each criterion is wide open to debate

Bottom line: An exercise to carefully weigh all of these criteria in a systematic reliable way is pretty much impossible.

That being said in most cases it’s fairly easy to weigh all those criteria and to come up with a ranking of the top 3 sports in just about any country. And, a ranking that most objective sports fans of that country would agree on without a whole lot of debate.

There’s a couple of reasons why this is true.

  • In most countries there is one dominant team sport and that sport is football (soccer). Practically no one will even credibly argue against soccer’s dominance. So off the top, we’re now only talking about 2nd and 3rd place.
  • And, again in most (but, not all) countries, #2 is often pretty well established based on the criteria above. Even without hard numbers the answer is obvious to people that live there.

All this being said, there are some countries, however, where handball’s place in the pecking order is open to debate. A debate, for the reasons listed earlier is pretty hard to resolve. So, instead of resolving I’ve decided to use the lack of a resolution as a way to help classify the sport’s popularity.

Classification (Key)

Here’s a few notes on how I’ve classified popularity.

  • Definitely the 2nd most popular team sport:
    • Countries where handball is 2nd in a preponderance of the criteria
  • Either the 2nd or 3rd most popular team sport:
    • Countries where there could be a legitimate debate between 2 sports as to which is 2nd or 3rd
    • Countries where handball is clearly 3rd
  • A major sport with a significant presence
    • Countries where the ranking becomes muddled from 3rd place on down, but handball is still clearly a major sport that captures significant attention
  • A minor sport with some presence
    • Countries where the ranking becomes muddled from 3rd place on down, but Handball is more of a minor sport with a small, but dedicated following.
  • A very minor sport with a limited presence
    • Countries where the sport’s ranking is somewhat moot because it’s hard to compare perhaps the 6th or 7th most popular team sport. Overall, participation numbers are small and the sport is seen as a curiosity by most of the citizens of that country.
  • A sport that is practically non-existent
    • Countries where there are no national teams, leagues or clubs.

A few more thoughts

  • There is a rough pecking order from top to bottom. Blue is top; Green is next, etc.
  • This isn’t a perfect representation. And, one could argue for even more gradation. For instance, one could take the nations in yellow and create a rough pecking order.
  • What about individual sports? If you really wanted to further complicate matters we could add Formula 1, UFC and Tennis. I didn’t want to go there.

What do you think?

This compilation/depiction isn’t set in stone. It’s just one man’s opinion influenced by feedback. If I’ve missed the boat let me know via email or social media and I’ll reconsider updating the map.

Email: john.ryan@teamhandballnews.com
Facebook: Link
Twitter: Link
Instagram: Link

Also, I’ll be creating similar maps for the other continents and I could use some feedback on Asia and the Americas.

The Race For Olympic Qualification Tournament Slots (UPDATE 24 Jan)

The IHF recently posted an article highlighting the status of Olympic Qualification and specifically, the Olympic Qualification Tournaments that will take place 17-19 April.

It’s kind of complicated as to how the dominoes fall, so I’ve created a chart (above) that shows which nations could be placed in each tournament based on how high each nation will place at either the European or African Championships which are both ongoing.

A few notes of explanation.

Hierarchy of Qualification

There are several ways to qualify for the Olympics, but a nation can only qualify once and there is a hierarchy to that qualification.

  1. Host Nation (Japan)
  2. World Champion (Denmark)
  3. Continental Champion
    1. Asia (Bahrain)
    2. Pan America (Argentina)
    3. Africa (Egypt or Tunisia)
    4. Europe (Spain or Croatia)
  4. Olympic Qualification Tourney (6 nations from 3 Tourneys)
    1. Seeded based on WC places 2-7
      • 2nd (Norway)
      • 3rd (France)
      • 4th (Germany)
      • 5th (Sweden)
      • 6th (Croatia)
      • 7th (Spain)
      • 8th – Egypt
      • 9th – Brazil
    2. Seeded based on 2nd or 3rd at Continental Championship

So with this hierarchy, there is a domino effect. As an example if Norway were to win the European Championship they will qualify as a continental champion and they will be removed from the Olympic Qualification Tourney seeding. And, then every nation on the list would move up one spot and slide over to another tournament based on the arrows indicated.

2020 African Championships

Egypt and Tunisia will play in the gold medal match and Angola and Algeria will play for Bronze on Sunday, 26 January.

Africa was the 2nd best continent at the 2019 World Championships so Africa has 2 slots in the Olympic Qualification Tournaments. Egypt was also the 8th place team at the World Championships, so if they lose to Tunisia on Sunday they will secure an OQT slot through that path. If that happens Africa will have 3 nations qualifying for an OQT. Tunisia, will automatically qualify, Egypt will be in Tourney #1 and then Angola and Algeria will have the Africa 2 and Africa 3 slots. However if Egypt wins Tunisia will be Africa 2 and the winner of the Angola-Algeria match will be Africa 3.

2020 European Championships

Thinks are a lot more clear now with the European Championships.

Only 1 Domino: With Croatia being the 6th place team at the last world championships and Spain being 7th there’s only 2 possible outcomes. Either Spain or Croatia will automatically qualify for the Olympics and the loser will be slotted into Tournament #2.

Europe 2 and Europe 3 slots are now set

  • Slovenia will finish either 3rd or 4th and has secured the Europe 2 slot
  • Portugal will finish either 5th or 6th and has secured the Europe 3 slot.

Brazil’s Situation

Brazil will qualify for Tournament #1 if Egypt wins the African Championship

Easy – Peasy Tournament #1

As usual, on paper, Tournament #1 is the place to be as it will only have 1 European nation fighting for 2 slots. France would surely have preferred for Norway to win the title. Now they will face their new nemesis, Portugal and the loser of Spain-Croatia. Nothing against Chile and S. Korea, but they just aren’t at the level of those sides.

I will update this article as more results become known.

The Race for Olympic Qualification Tournament Slots

Current Status (22 Jan 2020)

The IHF recently posted an article highlighting the status of Olympic Qualification and specifically, the Olympic Qualification Tournaments that will take place 17-19 April.

It’s kind of complicated as to how the dominoes fall, so I’ve created a chart (above) that shows which nations could be placed in each tournament based on how high each nation will place at either the European or African Championships which are both ongoing.

A few notes of explanation.

Hierarchy of Qualification

There are several ways to qualify for the Olympics, but a nation can only qualify once and there is a hierarchy to that qualification.

  1. Host Nation (Japan)
  2. World Champion (Denmark)
  3. Continental Champion
    1. Asia (Bahrain)
    2. Pan America (Argentina)
    3. Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Angola)
    4. Europe (Spain, Croatia, Norway or Slovenia)
  4. Olympic Qualification Tourney (6 nations from 3 Tourneys)
    1. Seeded based on WC places 2-7
      • 2nd (Norway)
      • 3rd (France)
      • 4th (Germany)
      • 5th (Sweden)
      • 6th (Croatia)
      • 7th (Spain)
      • 8th – Egypt
      • 9th – Brazil
    2. Seeded based on 2nd or 3rd at Continental Championship

So with this hierarchy, there is a domino effect. As an example if Norway were to win the European Championship they will qualify as a continental champion and they will be removed from the Olympic Qualification Tourney seeding. And, then every nation on the list would move up one spot and slide over to another tournament based on the arrows indicated.

2020 African Championships

Four nations (Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Angola) have already qualified for the semifinals. On Wednesday, 22 January they will play for semifinal seeding. On Friday, 24 January the semifinals will be played and on Sunday, 26 January the Finals will be played.

Africa was the 2nd best continent at the 2019 World Championships so Africa has 2 slots in the Olympic Qualification Tournaments. Egypt was also the 8th place team at the World Championships, so they might be in a position to secure an OQT slot through that path. But, that path will only open up if Norway, Croatia or Spain win the European Championships. If that happens, it’s possible that Africa could end up with 3 nations qualifying for an OQT. One scenario would be Tunisia winning the title and qualifying automatically, Egypt finishing second (securing the WC slot) and then Angola and Algeria securing the Africa 2 and Africa 3 slots.

2020 European Championships

A lot is still up in the air with the European Championships. I’ll try and break down some of the key scenarios.

Dominoes or No Dominoes: 3 of the 12 nations still playing (Norway, Croatia and Spain) have WC slots and if they win the title they will move those dominoes. 4 nations in Main Round Group II (Slovenia, Hungary, Portugal and Iceland) do not have a WC slot and if one of these nations wins the title there will be no dominoes. (Sorry Egypt; Sorry Brazil)

What different places (final ranking) could secure the Europe 2 and Europe 3 slots? You might think this would be a simple determination, but there are actually several possibilities.

  • 2nd, 3rd or 4th place: Slovenia could secure the Europe 2 position by qualifying for the semifinals and then failing to win the championship
  • 5th/6th place: Portugal has secured the Europe 2 or Europe 3 position by finishing 3rd in Main Round Group II. They will play Germany for 5th place, but since German has a WC slot the match result wouldn’t matter
  • 7th/8th place: If Slovenia wins the title then the Europe 3 slot will go to the 7th place team. Since the 7th place team, Sweden, has already qualified for an OQT via the World Championship, the next ranked team (Austria) will get a slot as Europe 3.

Brazil’s Situation

Brazil will qualify for OQT #1 if both of these events occur
– Norway, Croatia or Spain win the European Championship
– Egypt wins the African Championship

And, both of these events are quite possible so they will likely be doing some scoreboard watching on Sunday

Easy – Peasy Tournament #1

As usual, on paper, Tournament #1 is the place to be as it will only have 1 or 2 European nations fighting for 2 slots. France will surely be cheering on Norway to win the title so they can slide into that cup cake tourney. Seriously, here’s a possible tourney 2 lineup: France, Spain, Tunisia, Portugal. Nothing against Chile and S. Korea, but they just aren’t at the level of those side.

I will update this article as more results become known.

Final Day of Main Round Play:  The Math for the Semifinals, Olympic Qual Slots and 2nd Best Continent

Breaking News: NBC switches up schedule on final day of the Main Round.










NBC Makes a Smart Change to the Schedule

Today was shaping up to be a real bummer for American handball fans as NBC’s pre-planned schedule featured two Group I clashes: France vs Croatia and Spain vs Germany.  A few days ago that sounded pretty good, but in the intervening time Croatia suffered two defeats and Spain failed to pick up enough points to challenge for a semifinal.   This coupled with France and Germany having a clean slate (marred only by their head to head draw) meant the relatively rare occurrence of a final day of group play lacking any major drama.  Meaning that the scheduled TV clashes would be real yawners with France and Germany likely resting players ahead of the semifinals.  Fortunately, NBC has decided to switch up the schedule and show matches in Group II where there is more doubt as to who will advance.

Group II’s Math

NBC will now show Norway vs Hungary (Noon ET) and Sweden vs Denmark (2:30 PM) where 3 sides (Norway, Sweden and Denmark) all have chances to go through to the semifinals.  There are a number of different scenarios, but I’ll address the most likely ones in chronological order.  Norway will be playing Hungary first and will be favored to win.  If they win they are in pretty good shape to advance regardless of the outcome of the Sweden-Denmark match.  If they lose, however, they will need Sweden to also lose in order to advance.

Assuming Norway beats Hungary the math gets a little complicated when figuring out the different possibilities of a 3 way tie.  The simple math is that Sweden needs to win by 3 goals (and possibly 2) to bump Norway out of the 2nd slot.

From Denmark’s perspective they can lose by 3 goals and still keep the top slot.  Lose by 4 goals and they still advance as the 2nd seed.  But, lose by 6 (and possibly 5) they are out of the semifinals.  (All the math is at the bottom of this article).

So while Denmark is surely favored to continue their winning ways, Sweden has all to play for in the final match of the night.

Olympic Qualification Tournament Slots

While Group I semifinalists have been determined there are still Olympic Qualification Tournament slots at stake.  (Finishing 3rd or 4th should result in a qualification slot).  Brazil takes on Iceland in the first match of the day and a win there would give them 4 points and put them in a temporary tie with Spain and Croatia for 3rd place in the group.  Croatia then plays France and Spain takes on Germany.  Depending on how those matches play out there are a number of possibilities.  The simple math is that Spain is assured of finishing 3rd or 4th, Croatia can finish 3rd to 5th and Brazil can 4th or 5th.

In Group II, the non semifinalist amongst the group of 3 (Denmark, Sweden and Norway) is assured of finishing 3rd.  Hungary will likely finish 4th even if they lose Norway.  Egypt could catch them for 4th, but they would need to beat Tunisia and catch up on a 12 goal differential deficit.

2nd Best Continent

Thanks to Brazil’s upset victory over Croatia, Pan America currently has the advantage here.  If Brazil beats Iceland they will have 4 points in Group I which neither Tunisia nor Egypt will be able to match in Group II.  If, however, Brazil loses to Iceland an Egypt victory over Tunisia will see Egypt with 3 points to Brazil’s 2 points, giving Africa the slot.  Finally, Should Brazil lose and Egypt lose as well, that would result in Brazil being level with Tunisia, with 2 points each in Group play.  Should that happen, though, the next tie breaker is Preliminary round GD and Brazil has the edge there.

Detailed Math for the Denmark-Sweden match in the event there is 3 way tie for points between Denmark, Norway and Sweden

  • Denmark wins or draws: 1) Denmark, 2) Norway
  • Sweden wins by 1 goal: 1) Denmark, 2) Norway
  • Sweden wins by 2 goals and
    • Sweden scores 28 or fewer goals: 1) Denmark, 2) Norway
    • Sweden scores exactly 29 goals: 1) Denmark, 2) Norway or Sweden based on all matches
    • Sweden scores 30 or more goals: 1) Denmark, 2) Sweden
  • Sweden wins by 3 goals: 1) Denmark, 2) Sweden
  • Sweden wins by 4 goals: 1) Sweden, 2) Denmark
  • Sweden wins by exactly 5 goals and
    • Denmark scores 27 or more goals: 1) Sweden, 2) Denmark
    • Denmark scores exactly 26 goals: 1) Sweden, 2) Denmark or Sweden based on all matches
    • Denmark scores 25 or fewer goals: 1) Sweden, 2) Norway
  • Sweden wins by 6 goals or more: 1) Sweden, 2) Norway

Olympic Ramifications:  The Importance of Final Team Ranking and the Battle for 2nd Best Continent

Brazil celebrating after advancing to the Main Round. If they continue to do well it could mean an extra Olympic Qualification slot for Pan America.

There’s no arguing that handball isn’t a European dominated sport.  This is particularly true on the Men’s side where no non-European team has ever won the World Championship and only three nations, Egypt (2001), Tunisia (2005) and Qatar (2015) have even made the semifinals.

This year’s championship has seen 3 outsiders (Brazil, Tunisia and Egypt) join 9 European nations in advancing to the Main Round.  In doing so, I don’t think many observers would assess that they don’t belong.  Brazil beat Serbia and Russia in preliminary play.  Tunisia took out Austria while Egypt drew with Hungary, actually taking a point with them into the Main Round.

Still, while they belong it’s hard to see any of these teams making the semifinals.  Heck picking up any points in Main Round play could be a challenge.  But, while heading to Hamburg for the semifinals may be a longshot they still have a shot at securing an Olympic Qualification Tournament slot and securing an extra slot for their continental federation

Team Ranking and Olympic Qualification

The Olympic Qualification Process is a bit convoluted and involves a bit of dominoes.  Wikipedia has a good page summarizing it in detail:  Link

Here’s the cliff notes version focused on the ongoing World Championships.  The champion will automatically qualify for the 2020 Olympics.  Places 2nd-7th will qualify for an Olympic Qualification Tournament.  However, there’s a pretty high probability that the 2020 European Champion will belong to one of those nations that place 2nd-7th.  And, this means that those places will shift down 1 spot ultimately resulting in the 8th place team getting an Olympic Qualification Tourney bid.

But, wait there’s more.  It’s also possible that the same thing could happen with Pan America and Africa, should Brazil, Egypt or Tunisia finish 8th or better and then go on to win the PANAM Games or the African Championship.  And, theoretically, it could happen with both continents, meaning that even 10th place could secure an Olympic Qualification Tourney bid.  The complication which is somewhat confusing is that it’s not certain these nations will win their continental titles and we’ll have to wait until next year to find out.

Continent Ranking and Olympic Qualification                 

But, wait there’s still more.  The Olympic Qualification Tourneys also have slots awarded to the continental federations.  Each continent is granted 1 slot and the best and 2nd best continental federation at the preceding World Championships are granted an extra slot each.  Assuming a European team wins the title this means Pan America and Africa will battle for 2nd best.  And, this will be determined simply by which nation (Brazil, Egypt or Tunisia) finishes highest.

This ranking will be straight forward if any of those 3 nations places 4th or higher in their Main Round Group as that nation will then play in a placement match.  We could even theoretically with have a head to head continental matchup like Brazil vs Egypt for 7th place.  If, however, those teams finish 5th or 6th, their ranking for 9th-12th place will be as follows:

The teams that are in 5th place will be ranked 9th/10th and the teams that are in 6th place will be ranked 11th/12th.  Order for 9th/10th will be decided by 1) points in the Main Round and then by 2) Goal differential in the preliminary round.  Currently, these rules have Egypt in first place, Brazil 2nd and Tunisia 3rd.

  • Egypt: 1) 1 pt in the Main Round; 2) -1 GD in preliminary play
  • Brazil: 1) 0 pts in the Main Round; 2) -15 GD in preliminary play
  • Tunisia 1) 0 pts in the Main Round; 2) -24 GD in preliminary play

So, what does all of this mean?  Well, it means everyone in Pan America has a rooting interest in seeing Brazil do well and for Egypt and Tunisia to lose.  If Brazil can finish higher than the African nations it will result in 2 Olympic Qualification Tournament slots for Pan America meaning that both the 2nd and 3rd place nations at the PANAM Games will qualify for an Olympic Qualification Tournament slot.


Handball News Summary (9 October 2013)

2014 African Championships Draw Results

2014 African Championships Draw Results

1) Draw results for African Nations Cup. Earlier today the draw for the 21st African Championships was held. Both the men’s and women’s tournaments will be in Algiers, Algeria from 15-26 January, 2014. The top 3 men’s teams and a TBD number of women’s teams will qualify for the 2015 World Championships.
Africa Top Sports (French): Link

Group A: Tunisia, Egypt, Cameroon, Gabon, Libya, Senegal
Group B: Algeria, Morocco, Congo, DRC, Angola, Nigeria

Group A: Algeria, Congo, Senegal, Cameroon
Group B: Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Tunisia

2) Speculation is rampant that Talant Dujshebaev will soon be the coach at Vardar Skopje.  Vardar abruptly dismissed coach Zoran Kastratovic earlier this week and with Dujshebaev’s son Alex playing with the club many are thinking he will be the next coach.
Marca.com (Spanish): Link
Video: EHF Google Hangout: Link  (Talant Dujshebaev’s future is debated for several minutes at the start of the discussion.)

3) Gudmundur Gudmundsson to be named new coach of Denmark. Gudmundsson who previously coached his native Iceland to the 2008 silver medal is expected to be announced as the designated successor to current coach Ulrik Wilbek. It’s also widely speculated that he will end his coaching duties with Rhein-Neckar at the end of the season.
Handball-World: Link

4) Lar Christiansen supplements his retirement income. Following in the tradition of Jim Palmer and Michael Jordan Christiansen is pitching men’s underwear.
Handball World :  Link

5) Diego Simonet on Canal+. French Channel Canal+ has a short video feature on the Argentine finding a home with French club, Montpellier.
Handnews.fr (French): Link


African Championship: Tunisia’s men and Angola’s women have the tickets for London; celebrations also in the Netherlands!

London welcomes Angola and Tunisia

The medal games were played in Rabat today with rather expected results. Algeria did not manage to perform another miracle. Tunisia dominated the men’s final from the beginning, and after a half-time lead of 12-6, the final result was 23-20 in Tunisia’s favor. This means that Tunisia has qualified directly for the Olympic Games, while Algeria gets the place in a qualification tournament. Most likely this will be in a group hosted by Denmark, as Denmark hardly is going to secure Olympic tickets in the ongoing EURO2012. The bronze medal game was easily won, 29-15, by Egypt against the home team Morocco. This means that the Egyptians will join Tunisia and Algeria in the World Championships in Spain in January 2013.

Angola lived up to the expectations on them, but it was not an easy game. It was tied 12-12 at half-time and the Tunisian women put on an impressive performance with a team that has much less international experience. The final result was 26-24 in Angola’s favor. It was the eighth consecutive African Championship for Angola since 1998! So Angola will yet again appear in the Olympic Games, while Tunisia gets Africa’s place in a qualification tournament. They will face Denmark, Russia and the Dominican Republic in Denmark. Not an easy task… The bronze medals were won by the Democratic Republic of Congo who defeated Algeria 33-24.

The Angolan victory was a cause of celebration also in the Netherlands! As we have previously explained, Angola had already secured a special slot in a qualifying tournament on account of their strong showing in the recent World Championships. As they will no longer need that slot, this place will instead be filled through a ‘chain reaction’. Montenegro will move over to the slot that was reserved for Angola, and the Netherlands did indeed get the opportunity to qualify for London by taking over the original spot of Montenegro. We hope the Dutch will think of an appropriate way to show their gratitude!

The complete rankings were as follows:

MEN: 1. Tunisia, 2. Algeria, 3. Egypt, 4. Morocco, 5. Senegal, 6. Angola, 7. Cameroon, 8. Dem. Rep. of Congo, 9. Congo, 10. Cote d’Ivoire, 11. Gabon, 12. Burkina Faso.

WOMEN: 1. Angola, 2. Tunisia, 3. Dem. Rep. of Congo, 4. Algeria, 5. Cameroon, 6. Congo, 7. Cote d’Ivoire, 8. Senegal, 9. Egypt, 10. Morocco.


Africa: match-ups for quarterfinals all set

Angola's women in the recent World Championship

The preliminary round was completed today, and the quarterfinal for the men will be played on Tuesday; the women will follow on Wednesday. There was not much drama on the final group day, and most of the quarterfinals also seem rather easy to predict.

Among the men, the only real chance for another team to threaten the North African hegemony is through the game between Angola and the home team Morocco. The Angolans seem to be the strongest of ‘the rest’, and Morocco has not been very convincing so far. In today’s group game there was a 34-34 tie between Egypt and Algeria, with the Egyptians winning the group on goal difference. But with the somewhat ‘unusual’ format used, it seems the two teams will be on the same ‘half’ of the draw, so a rematch between them in the semi-finals will most likely decide who will play Tunisia in the final. And, of course, such a match-up would also be critical to the chance of grabbing a slot in the Olympic qualifying.

On the women’s side, there was a straight-forward situation in one group, with Tunisia winning the group and Morocco being the team failing to make the quarter-finals. The other group was more hard-fought, with Angola and Egypt clearly being top and bottom but with the other three teams being ‘bunched’ together in the middle. Perhaps it should be seen as a surprise that the Dem. Rep. of Congo grabbed the second place and, above all, that Cote d’Ivoire dropped to fourth place. This means they will face up-and-coming Tunisia already in quarterfinals. Perhaps this will be the game that settles who will be playing in the Olympic qualifying.


Group A
1) Angola 8 pts (4-0-0) GD +33
2) Dem.Rep. of Congo 4 pts (2-0-2) +2
3) Cameroon 4 pts (2-0-2) -23
4) Cote d’Ivoire 3 pts (1-1-2) +3
5) Egypt 1 pt (0-1-2) -15

Group B
1) Tunisia 8 pts (4-0-0) +43
2) Algeria 6 pts (3-0-1) +20
3) Congo 4 pts (2-0-2) +19
4) Senegal 2 pts (1-0-3) -3
5) Morocco 0 pts (0-0-4) -79



Group A
1) Tunisia 10 pts (5-0-0) +51
2) Morocco 8 pts (4-0-1) +9
3) Dem.Rep of Congo 6 pts (3-0-2) +6
4) Senegal 4 pts (2-0-3) -12
5) Congo 2 pts (1-0-4) -24
6) Gabon 0 pts (0-0-5) -30

Group B:
1) Egypt 9 pts (4-1-0) +53
2) Algeria 9 pts (4-1-0) +46
3) Angola 6 pts (3-0-2) +18
4) Cameroon 4 pts 2-0-3) +8
5) Cote d’Ivoire 2 pts (1-0-4) -56
6) Burkina Faso 0 pts (0-0-5) -59

Women’s quarterfinals: ANG-SEN, COD-CGO; TUN-CMR, ALG-CIV (To be played Wednesday, 18 January)
Men’s quarterfinals: TUN-CMR, MAR-ANG; EGY-SEN, ALG-COD (To be played Tuesday, 17 January)

N.B. these pairings have not been officially confirmed by CAHB yet, but they follow the published format.


Reunion Island: The French Handball Iceland due East of Madagascar

Just in case you were wondering, here's where you can find Reunion Island.


An ehfTV video has got me thinking that it’s a great time for a post on two of my favorite areas of study: Geography and Handball.  The subject video highlights top German side Kiel’s summer trip to Reunion Island in Travelogue fashion.  Apparently this team building trip to Daniel Narcisse’s home has put them in good stead so far this season.

As one who likes to think of himself as a “maphead” I’ll have to admit that before I lived in France I knew very little about France’s overseas Departments and Territories.   I knew of Reunion Island, however, because many years earlier my curiosity had been piqued by the talented Jackson Richardson.  Who is that Rasta looking Frenchmen with the American sounding name?

That investigation eventually led me to an atlas to find out just where the heck this Ile Reunion was.  Located in the Indian Ocean due East of Madagascar this French outpost is about as far away as you can get from the U.S.  That’s not an exaggeration as Reunion Island is almost an “antipode” of the Western U.S.  In other words if you start digging a hole straight through the center of the Earth, you’ll eventually come out in the Indian Ocean not far from this unlikely French Iceland.

French Iceland?  Well, while I doubt that Handball is a part of the culture on Reunion Island to the same extent it is in Iceland, there’s no denying this island of 800,000 souls has produced two of the world’s best players ever- Jackson Richardson and Daniel Narcisse.  We can debate where those two gentlemen rank among the all-time greats; top 10? Top 20? Top 50? But, it’s undeniably remarkable that this remote outpost can lay such a claim.

Why Reunion Island? How did this happen? Well, if anything this result is indicative of France’s effort to integrate all of its outlying Departments and Territories into France proper.  In an American context, Reunion Island and the departments of the Caribbean/South America Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana are France’s versions of Hawaii.  Those “Departments” have full representation in France’s State Assembly, in much the same way Hawaii is our full fledged 50th state.  And while those Departments have their own culture quite a bit of effort is expended to make sure those citizens also realize they are French just as much as someone growing up in Paris.  And one of those efforts is financial aid in the sporting department.

I’m not certain as to exactly what is provided, but it’s clear that sports are well organized as athletes from these departments are well represented on French National teams in several sporting disciplines.  In addition to Richardson and Narcisse, Joel Abati, Didier Dinart and Cedric Sorhaindo are recent products of the overseas departments.  And those are some of the most notable players.  There are also plenty of talented player playing for French Club teams.

If one’s perspective is to look at these French outposts as part of France, this representation is only somewhat remarkable.  Sure, these parts of France are over represented in terms of their relative population, but this is true in other countries and in other sports.  For instance, there’s a preponderance of ice hockey players in the U.S. from Minnesota and very few from Texas.  There are more beach volleyballers from California then there are from Illinois, etc., etc.

But, if one’s perspective is to compare these French outposts to their non-French neighbors the difference is night and day.  I’m guessing that a Reunion Island Department level all-star team could beat every national side in sub-Saharan Africa with the possible exception of Angola.  They certainly could easily handle any nation with a coastline on the Indian Ocean.  In the America’s, Guadeloupe and Martinique would probably give Cuba a run for the money in a Caribbean championship.  They would be a notch below Argentina and Brazil, but I bet you those sides a battle would be in the hunt for the top 3 spots at any of the recent Pan American Championships.

So, are these handball success stories a model to follow or are they just interesting anomalies to the Handball geography of the world which is overwhelmingly centered on Europe?  Well, in one sense they do in fact demonstrate that the sport can become popular in some unlikely locales.  Unlikely in that these Handball hotbeds are surrounded for the most part by other countries where the sport barely even exists.  But such popularization doesn’t come cheap or easy.  More than anything it’s a minor testament to the soft power and financial investment that Mainland France has projected onto these far flung dominions.  There’s almost no movement for independence in these islands for a number of reasons.  France has treated these citizens well, made them feel French to a great extent and developed their internal infrastructure much more so than could be expected on their own. And one small aspect of that infrastructure is ready access to gyms, coaching and equipment for the sport of handball.

But, there’s no denying the significant impact of this investment to the Handball world, particularly to France.  Imagine their national side for the past decade without players like Richardson, Abati, Dinart, Narcisse and Sorhaindo.  They’d still be good, but I don’t think we’d be talking about the same number of World and European titles.

ehfTV Inside the Game Video: http://www.ehftv.com/video/001806


Tunisia and Egypt lethargic on the court – ‘distractions’ had an impact?

When the group with the three most recent world champions (France, Germany and Spain) was referred to as the ‘group of death’, this was partly because it was furthermore believed that Tunisia and/or Egypt might be strong enough to surprise one of the three favorites.  It turned out, however, that both of these North African teams played below their recent standard, something that may well have rescued the feeble German team from even greater embarrassment.

Perennially among the key players on the Tunisian team, Megannem was this time unable to impress, and Tej had become a heavy and immobile version of his past figure.  The team played inconsistently and without real cohesiveness, despite drawing on many players with substantial club handball experience from abroad.  Egypt seemed listless and without their typical fighting spirit.  There were comments to the effect that the very late decision to bring back the German coach Lommel had led to confusion and divisiveness.  I cannot remember having seen such an unimpressive Egyptian team for many, many years.

I happened to witness the game between these two teams.  These rivalries are unpredictable: sometimes they offer very exciting spectacles but sometimes they are very disappointing.  This time it was about as bad as it can get.  The teams seemed to compete with each other not to win the game but to give it away.  Tunisia seemed to have a solid lead, mostly because the Egyptians were so error-prone.  But then suddenly Tunisia lost their thread completely, and within 12 minutes Egypt scored 9-0.  After that, Tunisia more or less seemed to give up.  And the usual tendency to cause a lot of stoppages by being down on the floor in exaggerated pain was worse than ever.  At times it was really anti-handball.

I did not have many opportunities to talk with my old acquaintances on the two teams and delegations.  And I did not want to get much involved with delicate matters.  But ‘off the record’ I got unsolicited comments from Tunisians along the lines:  “surely you appreciate that, while we try to concentrate, our thoughts are really elsewhere at this point in time”.  And an Egyptian comment suggested that they had indeed had occasion to discuss a bit with their brethren, even though nothing overt had yet taken place in Egypt at that moment.  One cannot escape the sense, however, that this group of Egyptians, like perhaps the broader population, was ‘seeing the writing on the wall’ and was beginning to worry about what might happen.

Let us hope that in future international events the two teams will come back to old form and with a new spirit of pride and determination.  And more important than what might happen on the handball courts, let us be optimistic that the evolution will turn out to be what our many friends in these two proud countries are hoping for!


USA Team Handball’s Egypt Connection

A strange twist of events resulted in USA Men’s National Team Captain, Mark Ortega, witnessing history in Egypt. Looking for a better training opportunity in preparation for the upcoming PANAM Games 2nd Chance tournament Mark moved to Egypt in January to train with fellow teammate Adam El Zogby’s club team, Al-Ahly, in Egypt. In two video reports, Mark chronicles Adam’s recovery from ACL surgery, life in Egypt and his search for a club to join. What starts as a handball travelogue seems starts to take a dramatic turn as protests in Egypt engulf the country. Video 2 ends with the protests starting and a discussion with a Cairo cab driver regarding their significance.




Team Handball’s weekly report on athletes playing overseas reports that Adam El Zogby is continuing his recovery and is safe and sound in his apartment situated a little over a mile from El Tahir Square.

USA Team Handball: Mark Ortega Profile.
USA Team Handball: Americans Abroad Report.