Al Deraa: We aim to create history in Egypt 2021
Egyptian left back Yahya Al Deraa will be contesting his third World Men's Handball Championship tournament with Egypt, and he has high hopes for the nation who are hosting the tournament for the second time after 1999.
Egypt's best finish in 16 appearances was a fourth place in France 2001, and having come in eighth place the last time around in 2019, they aim to better that performance in the newly created 32 team format.
Egypt have been drawn in Group G alongside North Macedonia who are new entrants having been drafted in place of the Czech Republic who withdrew, four time world champions Sweden and their opponents in the tournament opener Chile.
"I'm happy to compete for the third time in a world championship," said Al Deraa, speaking to Egypt 2021's website.
"With each participation, performance gets better with experience. I have to be at my very best in this tournament, because this is hosted in my country. I had hoped fans could be around to support us but we know how things are currently. We want to at least emulate our previous performance years back when Egypt hosted it.
"Preparation was hard with friendlies getting cancelled as well as training and external training camps. We are responsible though, and this is a chance for everyone to see what we can do and we hope to reach the furthest point we can. All plans have changed due to COVID-19, which has affected everyone in Egypt and elsewhere but this should give us the push we need to do our best.
"We all lived through the golden generation's successes and now we have a mix of young players as well as experienced ones who are of a high calibre. We dream of reaching the final four or even win the title, but we need to focus and do our best.
The Zamalek and Egypt player rounded off the interview, speaking about the new format which he thought made things more difficult and sent the home fans a message.
"With 32 teams, things will get harder for anyone and we will be facing some really tough sides. All teams have high hopes and ambitions of achievement.
"My relationship with Roberto Garcia Parrondo is great, he's a professional coach who knows how to deal with his players and we all fully trust him.
"My message to fans would be stay patient with us, support us, and we will do our best to make you happy and create history."