Qatar clubs El Jaish and Al Ahli had contrasting fortunes on the last day of the IHF Super Globe 2014 yesterday.
At the newly-built Qatar Handball Sports Complex, Asian champions El Jaish were outplayed by European champions SG Flensburg-Handewitt 17-27 in the third place play-off, while wild-card entrant Ahli defeated Oceania champions Sydney University 25-24 in a thriller to finish seventh.
The German giants, who lost to Sadd in a nail-biting finish and missed an opportunity to take on Barcelona, whom they defeated in the final of the European championships, demonstrated from the word go that they wanted to win the match. The European champions took the game away from their rivals, whom they defeated in the group match also, as they finished the first-half 15-6.
It didn’t change much post-interval with Flensburg keeping the momentum going. The armymen, last years’ bronze medal winner, tried to attack more but it only opened up their defence further and despite some impressive saves by goalkeeper Nandor Fazekas, Flensburg were too good to miss out on easy offerings.
Flensburg coach Ljubomir Vranjes was very pleased with his team’s performance. “Today we played well in the whole sixty minutes, so I am satisfied. When our defence works well then it’s very difficult for any team to down us,” he said.
“For us it was a great experience to take part in this tournament. You cannot play matches here every day. I would like to thank the organisers for their efforts and I wish them good luck for the upcoming 24th Men’s Handball World Championship.”
Centre back Heykel Megannem was the top scorer for the local team with six goals, while right back Johan Jakobsson and right wing Bogdan Radivokevic scored six each for the winners.
Jaish coach Zoran Kastratovic was understandably unsatisfied with the team’s performance.
“It was difficult to play five matches in six days especially when you have to face the European champions twice and a team like Barcelona. Both are better than us. I am not satisfied with the result tonight. After the early 5-5 draw, we started missing every shot even from seven meters,” he said.
“We didn’t give everything we had. Of course we may name the short preparation period as an excuse for fading in the last match. Overall we played, including the friendly tournaments in Croatia and France, eleven games in three weeks. We tried to surprise Flensburg, but they were a different team today,” he added.
After four defeats at the group stage, wild-card entrant Ahli managed to finish their campaign with a hard-fought victory as their left winger Jorge Pavan scored seven goals out of their 13 in the first 30 minutes of the game.
In the end, Cuban-born Pavan’s goal count reached nine in the match and 38 in overall in five matches.
Both the teams lacked power as they were playing their fifth match in six days, but they fought hard to finish the tournament with a victory. The first-half was at par with the lead shifting frequently. After going ahead 10-9, Ahli remained in the lead until the middle of the second-half, backed by superb saves by goalkeeper Ali Sayed, who blocked 15 shots out of 31 attempts on his net.
In the 48th minute, being down by four goals, the students fought back to even the score at 20. Ahli was leading with a 24-23 scoreline in the dying moments of the game and just half a minute before the end, right winger Sabea Nasser strike extended the lead to two-points. Centre back Alex Aubard’s buzzer-beater once again reduced the lead to one point but was unable to help Oceania champion secure their first victory in the IHF Super Globe in third year in a row.
“We found it hard to beat Sydney today, their goalkeeper did an excellent job, but we had luck on our side. I want to congratulate Sydney for their display and for being a disciplined team, which paid respect in every match to the rules of Fair Play,” Ahli coach Mihailo Radosavljevic said.
Sydney University coach Philipp Enders said: “I believe we have proved that we have made a significant progress and that was underlined by all coaches and players at the Super Globe. We showed fighting spirit, we played good handball and overall we feel proud with what we have showed. I’ve been here three years in a row, one as a trainer and two as a player. The progress I have witnessed in all fields is significant; the staff is fantastic and the venue exceptional, really amazing,” he said.
In a thrilling match for the fifth and sixth position, Tunisian side Esperance registered a narrow 32:31 victory against Pan American champions Taubate from Brazil.
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