13 January 2017
Seven games are scheduled on Friday, in Nantes, Paris and Rouen. Here is everything you need to know about day three.
Match of the day: Egypt vs Qatar (14:00 CET, AccorHotels Arena)
Group D at the 25th IHF Men’s Handball World Championship opens with a clash between two teams with a strong track record in their own continent and mixed results on the world stage, as African champions Egypt meet Asian champions Qatar to throw off the day in Paris.
Both teams competed five months ago at the 2016 Olympic Games, with Qatar ranking eighth and Egypt finishing ninth – indicating that a close game between two well-matched teams is set to open the day in AccorHotels Arena. The results at Rio 2016 were disappointing for both teams, as each travelled to Brazil with high expectations, but their final ranking was perhaps more of a blow to Qatar.
The Asian side won the silver medal at the 2015 IHF World Championship and therefore entered the 2016 Games as a favourite. Despite outstanding performances from goalkeeper Danijel Saric and left back Rafael Capote in particular, they were defeated in the quarter-final stage by Germany – who exacted revenge for their loss in the same stage at Qatar 2015 when the Asian team knocked them out of contention for the title.
Just as Qatar, led by 2013 World Championship-winning coach Valero Rivera, will rely heavily on key players like Saric and Capote to headline their campaign, Egypt count on their leader Ahmed El-Ahmar. Right back El-Ahmar has won countless individual awards on a continental level in particular and has scored more than 700 goals in 277 matches for Egypt.
Japan vs France (17:45 CET, Hall XXL)
After their large win over Brazil, the French team is hoping to maintain that momentum against Japan, who has put in a creditable performance against Russia, but lost by ten goals. Anything else other than a win would be a very disappointing result for the Bleus.
Belarus vs Chile (14:00 CET, Kindarena)
Just two years after their first meeting during the 2015 World Championship (the Belarusian team won 34:23), Chile and Belarus, who have both made steady progress these last years, are meeting again in a potentially crucial contest for the fourth qualifying spot.
Germany vs Hungary (17:45 CET, Kindarena)
Winner of the EURO 2016 and bronze medallist at the Rio Olympic Games, Germany begins the tournament against Hungary, who could be one of the surprise packages of this World Championship. Head coach of the German team Dagur Sigurdsson is taking the Magyar team very seriously, and even picked the Hungarians as the favourites of this match.
Croatia vs Saudi Arabia (20:45 CET, Kindarena)
After an encouraging preparation phase, Croatia are largely expected to win this first game against Saudi Arabia, a team whose best result at the World Championship is a 19th place finish (twice, in 2003 and 2013).
Sweden vs Bahrain (17:45 CET, AccorHotels Arena)
The Swedish team disappointed their fans during the Olympic Games (11th), and are now hoping to move forward during the 2017 World Championship. This first game seems to be within the reach of the Swedish team. On the Bahraini side, the identity of the day’s opponents will surely bring back some good memories, as Bahrain played its first, and only until now, World Championship in Sweden in 2011.
Denmark vs Argentina (20:45 CET, AccorHotels Arena)
After winning the gold medal at the Rio Olympics, the Danish team stands obviously among the big favourites of the 2017 World Championship. Their first game of the tournament, against Argentina and its star centre back Diego Simonet, thus is eagerly awaited.