By Abdellatif Sharaa

KUWAIT: Kuwait National Handball team lost its first match in the main draw against Iran with the score of 24-28 during their match Monday in the 19th Asian Championship in the second group of the main draw. Meanwhile Qatar defeated south Korea 34-27 in the same group. Kuwait national team still have hopes to qualify for the semifinals and World Cup if it beats South Korea, in a late match, and if Iran loses to S Korea, or if Kuwait wins its two remaining matches against Korea and Qatar.

‘The blues had a huge match’
Despite the national team’s loss, it gave fantastic performance in front of a very strong team that has seven players playing professionally in Europe, and it only was the experience factor that lacked our players, who have been away from competition for a long time, and lack of the needed physical fitness that led to the drop of the players’ performance during the final minutes of the match, as two opportunities for a draw were squandered.

‘Relying on three players only’
It was very obvious that Kuwait’s team depended on three players for scoring, Mohammad and Abdallah Al-Gharabally from the back line, and left winger Saleh Al-Mousawi, as this trio scored all goals except for two or three, and made it easier for the opponents as three other positions were absent from scoring.

Al-Qafsi: I take responsibility for the loss
Kuwait coach, Tunisian Aamen Al-Qafsi said he bears the responsibility of the loss to Iran and described his players as “heroes”, and gave a great performance and followed what they were asked to do, and he apologized to the Kuwaiti fans for what happened.

Al-Qafsi said, the reason behind the loss is little experience of some of the players at the international level, in addition to wasting easy opportunities to score, adding that Kuwait faced and organized and well developed team.

He said “we had chances for a comeback on several occasions, but we made mistakes and we will work on avoiding them to keep our hopes to qualify for the semifinals alive. We promise fans to be better and ask them to continue to be present in support of the players and thank them for all the support they gave us.

Reza Habeeb: We knew how to snatch the win
Iran’s coach Ali Reza Habeebi said Kuwait’s team lost concentration due to fan’s pressure and demands to win especially in the second half, adding that such matters should be dealt with to it can keep hopes to qualify further. He refused to say that his team is better than Kuwait’s adding that Iran played well and knew how to control the situation during the final moments of the match and snatched the win.

In the meantime Iran lost services of its star top scorer Sajjad Astaki who was injured during the match with Kuwait. Astaki is considered one of the best Iranian players in latest years and defended the colors of his country in 63 international matches during which he scored 350 goals since 2006.

Joan bin Hamad lauds Qatar’s team
President of Qatar Olympic Committee Sheikh Joan bin Hamad lauded the performance of Qatar’s team against the Koreans, adding on his twitter account “the Burgundy beat South Korea and takes the most important turn on the way of qualification for the World Cup next year.” In other matches Iraq continued its good performances in the consolation rounds and had its second win, against Australia with the score of 31-26.