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Dammam (Saudi Arabia)
Defending champions Qatar will take on Oman in their opening Group C match as the 20th edition of the AHF Men’s Asian Championship throws-off in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Title holders Qatar are looking to extend their winning streak to five titles in a row.
Originally to be held in Iran, this championship was moved to Saudi Arabia due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will be held across two venues in Dammam city – Dammam Hall and Qatif Hall – from 18 to 31 January 2022.
As many as 16 teams are competing for the continental title in the Gulf country, with the top five-ranked also directly qualifying for the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship in Poland and Sweden.
The sixteen teams are split into an initial four groups of four teams each with the teams ranked first and second progressing into two main round groups.
The top two teams in each main round group will then move into the semi-finals, followed by medal matches.
The 2020 winners Qatar are the team to beat after they easily defeated Republic of Korea 33:21(14:11) in the final two years ago.
Japan, the 2020 bronze medallists, are not in Saudi Arabia after having initially been part of the draw back in December, but announced their withdrawal from the competition earlier this month after 10 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in their European training camp, which was subsequently cancelled.
The withdrawal means it is the first time they will not take part in the continental championship after having appeared in all 19 previous editions.
Historically, Korea have won the most AHF Men’s Asian Championship titles – nine – followed in joint second place by Kuwait and Qatar (four each) with 2022 featuring the debut of both Singapore and Vietnam at this level.
Jordan appear again for the first time since 2012, while Korea’s appearance will be their 18th overall – the most of any nation in Dammam.
On the opening day, seven other matches will be held in addition to the Qatar-Oman clash with Singapore meeting South Korea and Jordan playing Kuwait in the first group; India with Saudi Arabia and Australia with Iran in the second group; Iraq with the UAE in the third group; and Uzbekistan against Hong Kong, and Vietnam versus Bahrain in Group D.Group A: Singapore (SGP), Republic of Korea (KOR), Jordan (JOR), Kuwait (KUW)
Group B: India (IND), Saudi Arabia (KSA), Australia (AUS), Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)
Group C: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq (IRQ), Oman (OMA), Qatar (QAT)
Group D: Uzbekistan (UZB), Hong Kong (HKG), Vietnam (VIE), Bahrain (BRN)
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