Nouakchott/Tunis — The 3rd Orange Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) is under way in South Africa. Limited to 16 teams of local players, the biennial event showcases emerging football stars.
The Maghreb is represented by Morocco, Libya and Mauritania. Their biggest challenge is to replace sitting title-holders Tunisia, who failed to qualify for the 2014 edition.
In their first Group B outing on Sunday (January 12th), Morocco and Zimbabwe played to a goalless draw in Cape Town.
The result came as a surprise for the Atlas Lions, since the Warriors had lost a recent friendly to Mauritania and were seen as easy opponents.
The next match for the Moroccans is January 16th against Burkina Faso. Uganda also pose a Group B threat.
On Tuesday, Mauritania will begin their historic CHAN run with a clash against Group D favourites DR Congo.
Mauritania has rallied in support of the Mourabitounes, who are participating for the first time in the final stages of a major competition.
There was even a 72-hour telethon to raise money to help the national team.
Their CHAN group also includes Burundi (marking their first appearance in the event) and Gabon, who recently won the CEMAC Cup.
For Libya, their second participation in CHAN will not be easy. The Mediterranean Knights play their opener against Ethiopia at 8 pm on Monday.
Libyans are in Group C with heavy hitters Congo, Ghana and Ethiopia.
The event runs until February 1st.
Tunisia seek another African handball title
The Tunisian men's handball team are preparing to defend their African title this week in Algeria.
The Carthage Eagles will join Libya, Egypt, Senegal, Cameroon and Gabon in Group A at the African Men's Handball Championship. Event hosts Algeria are in Group B with Morocco, Angola, Congo, DR Congo and Nigeria.
Tunisia have won the African championship nine times.
In preparation for their try at a tenth title, Tunisia played two friendlies against Germany at the week-end.
The Tunisian team won the Saturday match 25-23 and drew 23-23 on Sunday.
The games gave coach Sead Hasanefendić a chance to observe his squad before their African adventure.
Hasanefendić predicted strong competition from Egypt and Algeria for the title.
The event begins on January 16th. Opening day includes a match between event hosts Algeria and Nigeria. Morocco and Angola are also slated to clash on Thursday.
Wael Jalouz, Selim Hedoui, Mahmoud Gharbi and other members of the team look to make Tunisian fans proud when they face Senegal on January 18th.