By Abdellatif Sharaa

KUWAIT: Qatar tightened its grip on the Asia Handball Championship title for the fourth consecutive time after beating South Korea 33-21 in the final match of the 19th championship held at Sheikh Saad Indoor halls complex. Performance was level during the first half despite having Qatar ahead in the score, as Qatari players were complying with the strict tactics dictated by their Spanish coach, especially in having the 6-0 defence, while not being reckless during fast breaks.

Qatar’s Francis Mazouro was excellent and scored five goals, and broke the Korean defence which relied on the 4-2 defence plan to prevent shooting from outside the nine meters zone. Meanwhile, Qatar increased its lead in the second half to 17-12, taking opportunities of intercepted balls while Qatar’s goalkeeper was at his best, and alternating goal keepers was also successful, that in addition to high concentration.

Representative of the championship patron Sheikh Fahad Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad, President of Kuwait Olympic Committee, who represented HH the Prime Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, handed the champion’s cup to the winners accompanied by Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani, President of Qatar Olympic Committee who attended the final match.

Japan was third in the championship by defeating Bahrain 27-26 in a highly exciting and fast match, bearing in mind that both Japan and Bahrain already qualified for the world cup finals 2021 in Egypt. Japan’s coach said he was satisfied with the performance of his team ending in third place, adding that luck was against him in the second half in the semifinal against Korea. He said that the bronze medal is a good incentive for the team in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as it is still too early to prepare for the World Cup.

Bahrain’s goalkeeper Mohammad Abdelhussein said he was sad for ending in fourth place, as it was better if we won a medal. He said the Bahrain team achieved what is more important which qualify for the World Cup 2021 in Egypt. He hoped the future will be better for Bahrain during upcoming events.