Sports / Handball

Qatar eye title clash with win over Iran

Published: 29 Jan 2022 - 09:53 am | Last Updated: 29 Jan 2022 - 09:55 am
Qatar handball team players prior to the kick off of a match during the Asian Championship in this file photo.

Qatar handball team players prior to the kick off of a match during the Asian Championship in this file photo.

The Peninsula

Doha: Reigning champions Qatar will be targeting their sixth appearance in the final when they take on Iran in the semi-final of the 2022 Asian Men’s Handball Championship in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, today.

The semi-final will kick off at 4:00pm at the Ministry of Sports Hall.

The four-time Asian champions and 2015 World Championship runners-up – Qatar  have already qualified for the 2023 IHF World Men’s Handball Championships to be held in Poland and Sweden, and will be keen to sign off at the tournament in Saudi Arabia without a single defeat.

Qatar reached the semi-finals after topping Group I of the Main round with six points, two ahead of hosts Saudi Arabia. 

The Valero Rivera-coached Al Annabi beat Saudi Arabia (34-19), Uzbekistan (46-15) and South Korea (10-0) in the main round following a similarly brilliant run in the Group Stage where they excelled against Iraq, UAE and Oman. 

On the other hand, Iran finished second in Group II after overcoming Iraq and Kuwait before going down to Bahrain.

Today’s semi-final also marks Qatar’s 10th appearance in the Asian Championship last-four. Interestingly, Qatar had competed in the Asian Championship 15 times since their debut in 1983, and had ended up on the podium on eight occasions, marking an astonishing record. 

Only South Korea have a better record (nine titles in 14 appearances), but the East Asian nation had to bow out of the current Championship after finishing in the third position in the main round.

South Korea, unfortunately, had to forfeit their final main round match against Qatar on Wednesday as many of their players were laid low by COVID-19. As per the tournament rules, the result was ruled 10-0 in favour of Qatar.

Meanwhile, Bahrain, the only unbeaten team apart from Qatar in the tournament so far, will take on host Saudi Arabia later this evening in the second semi-final.

Bahrain, will target their fifth Asian Championship final at the expense of Saudi  Arabia. Bahrain have reached the finals on four previous occasions, but have failed to clinched the title honours.