By Sports Reporter /Doha
India got a taste of what high class handball feels like as they crashed to a 10-40 defeat to hosts Qatar in the Asian men’s qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Duhail Sports Hall yesterday.
Qatar, the three-time Asian champions and runners-up at the 2015 World Championships, led 18-4 at half time and added 22 more goals later to book their spot in the semis
Watched by local officials including the Qatar Olympic Committee Secretary-General Jassim Rashid al-Buanain, the home team came up with a spirited display to stay on top in the preliminaries of Group A.
Qatar had thrashed Hong Kong 49-14 in their opening match last Thursday.
India, who lost their last match to Saudi Arabia are now left with an uphill task.
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, India, and Hong Kong make the group.
Group B comprises Bahrain, South Korea, Iran and Kuwait (who have returned to the the IHF fold following the lifting of their 2015 suspension).
The qualification tournament, which ends on October 26, sees eight teams battle to grab a spot alongside Japan, who have already qualified automatically as hosts.
The top two teams of each group advance to the semi-finals and then final, with the winner booking their ticket through to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The runner-up will qualify for the IHF Olympic qualification in April.
Qatar will now play Saudi Arabia in their next and final preliminary match tomorrow at 6pm.
Meanwhile, the International Handball Federation (IHF) President Dr Hassan Moustafa, who was in Qatar to attend the finals of the ANOC World Beach Games – Qatar 2019, heaped praise on the inaugural edition saying, “Qatar did a very good job” as hosts.
Expressing his views, Dr Moustafa said, “I am very happy to be here in Qatar and also very happy that the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) accepted to put beach handball in the debut edition of the ANOC World Beach Games.
“I also have to give my gratitude to the organisers as well as all my gratitude and thanks to the teams, trainers and referees; they all did a very good job. I am very happy and satisfied with the results, with the spectators, with everything at the first ANOC World Beach Games.”
The IHF president hoped handball’s big presence at World Beach Games will help them take the sport to Olympics. “I would also like to express my thanks to the IHF Beach Handball Working Group; they did a very good job for us and I hope that it will continue.
I hope the International Olympic Committee can help us include beach handball at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris,” said Dr Moustafa.
With all the six IHF continental champions (Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America, the Caribbean and South & Central America) participating at the World Beach Games in Qatar, Dr Moustafa felt this will help promote the sport further.
“This is the main thing about how we can promote our sport. We are very strong not only in Europe, but for beach handball at these ANOC World Beach Games we had all the continental teams taking part. I am sure in the future, smaller countries can do well at the beach games,” he said.
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