By Sports Reporter
Defending champions Qatar on Monday thrashed Uzbekistan 46-15 to inch closer to semi-finals of the Asian Men’s Handball Championship 2022 underway in Saudi Arabia.
The second consecutive win at the Ministry of Sports Hall in Qatif put the four-time winners on top of Group I standings with 4 points and a whopping goal difference of +46. Qatar, who also topped their group in the preliminary stage with three straight wins, have scored a total of 80 goals while conceding only 34 in the main round.
Yesterday, there seemed to be no stopping the Qatar strikers, who in the match against Uzbekistan, scored at will from all corners garnering total scores of 28-7 and 18-8 in the two halves respectively.
After the win, Qatar became favourites to reach the semi-finals as hosts Saudi Arabia stunned nine-time winners South Korea 27-22 in yesterday’s late match at the same venue.
The home team jumped to second spot in the group on basis of a better goal difference, with South Korea slipping to third. Uzbekistan, who are yet to register a win in the main round, are at bottom.
Qatar and South Korea will square off tomorrow in an anticipated Group I fixture while Uzbekistan will meet Saudi Arabia the same day in last match of the group.
Meanwhile in Group II, Bahrain retained their top position after a hard-fought 34-31 victory against Iraq in Dammam. The other match of the group saw Iran edging out Kuwait 27-26 (11-11) after a thrilling match.
Tomorrow, Iraq face Kuwait in their last match of main round while Bahrain will take on Iran in a battle to top group. Top two teams from each group will enter the semi-finals of the tournament after today’s matches. The semi-finals will be played on January 29 while the final is scheduled on January 31.
Teams winning top five positions in the tournament will qualify for the 2023 World Men’s Handball Championship to be jointly hosted by Poland and Sweden.
Qatar have won the 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 editions and can match South Korea’s record of five straight titles with a crown in Saudi Arabia. Since winning their first Championship in 2014, Qatar have been unstoppable in the continental tournament, beating Bahrain in three finals and South Korea in the last edition two years ago in Kuwait. The 2015 world silver medallists could match the record for most title victories in a row, currently held by South Korea from 1983-1993.
South Korea is the most successful team in history with nine titles, but the last of these came in 2012. Their best performance since then was at the last tournament, losing 33-21 in the final. However, they are down to sixth on the continent in the world rankings, sitting 49th worldwide.
Group I: Qatar beat Uzbekistan 46-15; Saudi Arabia beat South Korea 27-22
Group II: Iran beat Kuwait 27-26; Bahrain beat Iraq 34-31
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