By Sports Reporter/Jakarta
It should be a walk in the park for Qatar’s formidable handball team as they take on Malaysia in their preliminary round group A match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta today.
Although the pan-Asian quadrennial sporting gala is scheduled to open formally only on August 18, competitions in extremely strenuous sports such as football, basketball and handball have been given an earlier start in order to allow teams ample rest between matches.
Qatar defeated South Korea in the final to win the 2014 Asian Games gold medal at Incheon, and early this year also won the Asian Cup for the third straight time to assert their supremacy in the continent.
However, Qatar are not just a force in Asia, having made an impact on the world stage too.
At the 2015 World Men’s Handball Championship held in Doha, Qatar narrowly lost out to France in the final to finish runners-up. At the 2017 edition, they lost a couple of tight matches to bag a creditable eighth place.
Teams such as South Korea, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have also made some progress in the game but Qatar’s overall superiority should not be a matter of debate.
And Qatar captain Abdelrazzak Murad was therefore naturally exuding confidence ahead of the match.
“We are a much better side than Malaysia and should win the match easily,” the centre-back said yesterday.
“Our motive is to defend our title by winning the gold. We are fully prepared. We had a 10-day preparatory camp in Spain and played four friendly matches against Iran and Lisbon in Doha which we won.
Murad said some players are carrying niggles but they were not bothering the team much
“There are a few injuries in the team but they are not serious. This being only the preliminary round we can handle the situation very well.”
The 13 teams taking part in the tournament have been divided into four groups, with two from each qualifying for the second round which will decide the semi-finalists.
The final will be played on August 31.
Squad: Abdelrazzak Murad, Frankis Marzo, Alaeddin Nabil, Rafael Capote, Daniel Saric, Goran Stojanovic, Bertrand Ronay, Mustafa Amir Hiba, Marwan Ali Sassi, Amin Noureddine Qahis, Anis Abdel Razak Zouaoui, Ahmed Mohamed Meddi, Rachid Youssef, Wagdi Ibrahim Sinan, Youssef El Tayeb Ali and Amin M Hamad Zoukar. Coach: Valero Rivera
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