Egypt defiant about U17 World Cup chances
CAIRO (Egypt) - Egypt Head Coach Amr Aboul Kheir wasted no time to establish goals for the African champions once the 2022 FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup draw was complete.
The Pharaohs have been in drawn in Group D alongside Argentina, Poland and a team from the Asian region - yet to be determined.
The tournament will be played in Malaga, Spain from July 2-10, 2022.
"NOW WE HAVE HIGHER GOALS. AS A TEAM OUR OBJECTIVE IS TO QUALIFY TO THE TOP-EIGHT OF THE U17 WORLD CUP."
"This is a very balanced group. Both Argentina and Poland are good teams, just like as we are. We won the U16 African Championship ahead of a very good Mali team," said Aboul Kheir.
Egypt won the 2021 FIBA U16 Africa Championship thanks to 7-1 mark.
In the Group Phase, Egypt beat Cote d'Ivoire, Uganda, Algeria, Chad, but lost to Mali (71-62).
In the knockout stages, Egypt defeated Algeria in the semis before seeing off Mali 63-62 in a highly-contented Championship Game.
Aboul Kheir, a former Olympian who coached his country at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, remains defiant about Egypt chances in Malaga.
"Now we have higher goals. As a team our objective is to qualify to the top-eight of the U17 World Cup," he said.
The former point guard who masterminded his country to the U16 African Championship last year in Cairo, revealed that "Before we start our training camp in April we have been scouting our opponents to avoid surprises during the World Cup."
According to the tactician, Egypt are expected to keep the core of the team from last year. "I am hoping to keep the core of the team that won the African Championship, and, maybe, add three or four players that we have scouted."
Adam Elhalawany, who powered Egypt with a team-high 10.3 points per game and was named the 2021 FIBA U16 Africa Championship MVP is expected to return. Others looking to make their world stage debut might include point guard Youssef Elghayesh and Ahmed Abouelela.
"If things go according to plan we are hoping to host a friendly U17 tournament to weigh up our strengths and weaknesses," Aboul Kheir pointed out before adding: "Aside from trying to qualify to the quarter-finals we aim to play good basketball.
"Of course it’s going to be challenging, but that’s what this tournament is all about. There are no easy games."
Argentina, Canada, Dominican Republic, France, Lithuania, Mali, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, and the USA will all be taking part in the U17 World Cup this year.
The defending champions are the USA who won their 5th straight title back in 2018 in Argentina.