African championships in Algiers end with a thrilling final and a hosts’ triumph
Backed by 10.000 frenetic spectators Algeria have become African men’s handball champions on home ground, dethroning Tunisia in the final in Algiers.
“We are so proud, we are so happy, incredible!”, said Algerian coach Rida Zegueli after the trophy of the African Championship was handed over by Manserou Aremou, President of the African Handball Confederation. “We made it to Qatar, our dream came true. Now we want to represent Africa in a successful way at this great event in 2015,” Zegueli added.
Goalkeeper Slahdji Abdelmalek was the key to success for the Algerians, who took their first continental title since 1996 with a 25:21 (12:11) win over the defending champions. Tunisia were close to the Algerians for 50 minutes, but then the crowd boosted the host to this remarkable victory. By beating Angola in a one-sided match by 31:24 (19:12) Egypt won the bronze medal and booked – like both finalists – ticket for the 2015 Men’s World Championship in Qatar. Best scorer of the bronze final was Egyptian Ismael Ali Zeinedabdin with ten goals.
After a long wait of 38 years the Tunisian women have won their first continental trophy. But the President’s Cup winner of the 2013 Women’s World Championship had a high mountain to climb before DR Congo was beaten in an unexpectedly close final by 23:20 after trailing 10:11 at the break. Earlier, the Tunisian women had ended Angola’s 18 years dominance after nine consecutive titles by a thrilling 31:30 victory in extra time in the semi-finals, and thereby avenged their four straight final defeats in previous African Championships. But Angola – like the two finalists – qualified for the 2015 Women’s World Championship in Denmark by winning the bronze final.
In the men’s competition Tunisia had a hard fight to reach the final with a semi win over Egypt. The Egyptians lead 12:10 at the break, but then Tunisia improved defence and conceded only eight goals in the second half to finally win by 22:20. Tunisia had a five-goal lead in the first half, before Egypt improved and were in the lead until the intermediate score of 16:15 in the second half. But after the scoreboard read 18:17 Tunisia did not relinquish the lead to make it to their third straight final.
In the second men’s semi, host Algeria confirmed their favoured role against surprise team Angola, winning by 27:23 (13:11) to confirm the exactly same final fixture as two years ago.
On the fringes of the tournament in Algiers, the African Confederation made a major decision for the future of the African championships. After the men’s and women’s tournaments had been organised as one event 21 times, from 2016 on the continent’s champions will be crowned separately. Egypt will host the first ever exclusive Men’s African Championship in two years, while Angola will organise the Women’s Championship in 2016.
Result summary of the African Championships:
Quarter-finals: Algeria – Senegal 44:21 (21:12), Tunisia – Congo 44:21 (23:8), Angola – Cameroon 24:21 (12:12), Egypt – Morocco 24:15 (10:6)
Semi-finals: Tunisia – Egypt 22:20 (10:12), Algeria – Angola 27:23 (13:12)
Bronze final: Egypt – Angola 30:24 (19:12), Final: Tunisia – Algeria 21:25 (11:12)
Final ranking: GOLD: Algeria; SILVER: Tunisia, BRONZE: Egypt,
4. Angola, 5. Cameroon, 6. Morocco, 7. Congo, 8. Senegal, 9. Gabon, 10. DR Congo, 11.Nigeria, 12. Libya
Quarter-finals: Algeria – Guinea 25:17 (14:8), Angola – Cameroon 28:23 (17:11), DR Congo – Congo 27:22 (13:13), Tunisia – Senegal 31:27 (17:13)
Semi-finals: Tunisia – Angola 31:30 (26:26, 14:12), DR Congo – Algeria 28:23 (12:10)
Bronze final: Angola – Algeria 30:22 (18:10), Final: Tunisia – DR Congo 23:20 (10:11)
Final ranking: GOLD: Tunisia, SILVER: DR Congo, BRONZE: Angola
4. Algeria, 5. Congo, 6. Senegal, 7. Cameroon, 8. Guinea