Qatar beats KSA to enter Asian men handball final
TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK
DOHA DEFENDING champion Qatar packed many a punch to rout Saudi Arabia in the semi-finals of the Asian Junior Men’s Handball Championship on Wednesday.
The Qatar Sports Club hall reverberated with shouts of cheers every time the home team netted a goal during the play which ended with the Qatari team’s authoritative 32- 25 triumph over the neighbour.
Tall Selvedin Omahic and Eldar Memisevic led the home team’s charge into the final as both scored 14 goals between them with the former being the top striker of the match with 8 to his credit.
In the final on Friday, Qatar will take on South Korea, the same rival who it had beaten to emerge the winner in Tehran two years ago. South Korea defeated Kuwait 37-26 to win the other semi-final.
Qatar coach Dragon Zovko heaped fulsome praises on his players for presenting a brilliant show and qualifying for the World Junior Championship to be organised by Bosnia and Herzegovina next year.
“I am more than satisfied with the game of my team today. It was not an easy match,” said Zovko. In the first round of the group league, Qatar had to battle hard to beat the Saudi team by 28-26 after being deadlocked at 14-14 at the interval.
“Our players were determined to win this match and they indeed did it in great style.
We’re very happy to have qualified for the world championship and secured our first goal,” added the coach.
Talking about the next goal, Zovko said, “His team is ready to take on any opponent. We’ll focus on the final and, God willing, we’ll defend the crown also,” he said.
The all-round ability of Omahic was certainly the highlight.
He not only provided the needed momentum to the team early into the match, he joined Hadi Hamdoon, Mousa al Khalaf, Firas Chaieb and Tareq al Khateeb to prevent the rivals from scoring.
Mimes Grco under the Qatari bar played well in the initial parts of the match and denied the Saudi Arabians a few goals. But as the match progressed, his movements looked to be unsure and allowed the opponent to score and come close to drawing level (6-5, 8-7 and 9-8).
Qatar, however, stepped up both pace and pressure soon and controlled the proceedings.
With skillful rotation of the ball and finding space to score, Qatar increased its twogoal lead to three goals. But the Saudis fought back to keep the deficit at two goals at the halftime.
In the second session, Zovko replaced Grco with Abdulla al Thafiri and he excelled to virtually ensure the win with his magnificent anticipation and reflexes. He was also responsible for Qatar consolidating its lead further. With 13 minutes left, Qatar was nine goals ahead of Saudi Arabi when Memisevic netted to make it 27-18.
Later, Saudi Arabia tried its best but it was not enough to trouble the hosts, for whom Hadi Hamdoon struck four goals, Mousa al Khalaf and Tareq al Khateeb also shared six between them. The latter was pulled up for his rough play and suspended for two minutes on three occasions.
Qatar team manger Adel Yaqoob expressed his delight at his team’s victory. “This triumph is a gift to the Qatar Handball Association President Ahmed al Shaabi for his great support to the team.
We all worked very hard to reach the final but our main task is to retain the title. We’re happy to have made it to the world championship and we’ll do our best to win the crown at home.” Fadel al Sulaiman was the highest scorer for Saudi Arabia, getting seven goals.
Rami al Mutari and Abdulla al Abbas got five and four, respectively.