Nigeria’s men national handball team will be competing at the 2020 African Handball Nations Championship in Tunisia with the sole aim of securing a ticket to the 2021 IHF World Men’s Handball Championship president of the Handball Federation of Nigeria Sam Ocheho has said.
Nigeria who will be making a twelfth appearance at the biennial championship, have been drawn alongside Libya, Gabon and Angola in Group B of the Nations Championship which will hold from 15 to 25 January 2020.
The 2020 Nations Championship serves as a qualifier for 2021 IHF World Men’s Handball Championship which has been expanded from 24 to 32 teams and will hold in Egypt.
And with Africa having been allocated seven places in the newly expanded tournament (Egypt get a slot as hosts while six teams will qualify through the Nations Championship) Ocheho says Nigeria must take advantage of the newly opened up slots to secure a maiden berth at the global showpiece.
“The Nations Cup is the qualifier for the World Cup that is going to be happening in Egypt in 2021,” Ocheho told busybuddiesng.com. “The World Championships is the first time they are going to come up with a 32 team format, and I think this time seven team places have been allotted to Africa.”
“So, our main purpose of going to the African Nations Cup in January is to ensure we qualify for the World Cup for the very first time.”
Nigeria has never finished higher than the 4th place recorded at the 1998 edition in South Africa and were 10th in the 2018 edition held in Gabon and won by Tunisia.
Surpassing the 1998 mark comes a distant second to securing qualification to the World Championships Ocheho says.
“Well, a lot has happened for handball in Nigeria. I think for me, my main target is a World Cup place, and then we’ll fight for top four, and then from there we’ll take it up,” he said.