By a correspondent/Suwon, South Korea
champions Qatar produced a strong display to thrash Saudi Arabia 30-20
and top Group D in the preliminary round of the Asian Handball
Championship in Suwon, South Korea, yesterday.
This was the third straight win for Alvaro Rivero’s men, who had earlier accounted for New Zealand and China to serve notice they meant business.
In the main round of the tournament, Qatar will meet Japan, Bahrain and the UAE in Group B, while Iran, Oman, South Korea and Saudi Arabia face off in Group A.
The teams were tied 5-5 eight minutes into the game yesterday before Qatar took control and stamped their authority.
Within a matter of minutes, Qatar were up 16-8 before ending the first half with a comprehensive 21-10 advantage. In fact, such was the confidence coach Rivera had in his team that he fielded less experienced players as substitutes to give the senior pros some much-needed rest. Anis Zouaoui scored eight goals for Qatar and was adjudged the best player of the match. Rafael Capote with five goals and Mahmoud Hassaballa with four were the other main scorers for Qatar.
Coach Rivera was understandably pleased with Qatar’s performance.
“I am very happy how the boys played and topped the group,” said the Spaniard under whom Qatar has won several titles.
“It was important to approach this match carefully as we have been playing almost on a daily basis and there is always a risk of injury.
“That is why I had to protect some of the senior players by substituting them,” he added. Rivero was however under no illusion that the second round would be much more competitive.
“Without a doubt the second round will be tougher as the eight best teams in the tournament will be involved and keen on qualifying for the 2019 World Championship in Germany and Denmark. “Our focus now therefore is to forget the preliminary round and focus on qualifying for the World Championship.”
Qatar player Hassan Awad added that the team will try their best to win the tournament.
“We respect all competitors but we have a goal. It is to win the event. Qatar has entrusted us with great responsibility and we are confident that we can achieve our goals,” said Awad.
“We prepared hard for this tournament and our efforts have paid off so far. But there is still a long way to go and we can’t afford to be complacent,” he added.
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