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October 16, 2019
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Gulf Times Sports

Qatar on course with wins over Croatia and Hungary

Hosts Qatar started their handball campaign in the first ANOC World Beach Games with two wins on the trot yesterday.
In Group ‘B’ matches, Asian champions Qatar first registered a come-from-behind 2-1 (16-21, 17-16, 9-6) victory over former world champions Croatia at the Gharafa Sports Complex and later in the evening session defeated Hungary 2-1 (18-20, 18-14, 7-4) at Katara Village to remain unbeaten in the group.
“It was a good day for us. I am very happy with the boys’ performance against strong rivals on the opening day. We have two tough games to begin with against top European teams and we have emerged victorious,” Qatar coach Khaled Hasan told Gulf Times.
The second-string Qatar team started the day on a confident note as they took an early 10-2 lead, but 2016 world champions Croatia came back to make it 10-10 and later won the set 21-16.
“We started the first set well, but the players lost their focus in the last two minutes of the game to surrender the lead. But I can understand as it was our first game and initial hiccups are not abnormal,” said Hasan.
“It was a very good first match against Croatia, which finished third in the world championship and it was confidence boosting for us,” Hasan said.
Qatar are playing without some of main players as they are busy with the preparations of Asian Men’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournament which starts in Doha on October 17, the day after the beach handball final. Qatar’s players regrouped themselves in the second set and tied Croatia 8-8 but later capitalised on several mistakes by their rivals to carve out a 14-8 lead.
The Croatia side was also a mix of youth and experience as the four-time European champions were without some of their top players who are playing for their clubs in Europe. 
Then came a spell when Croatia got back into the game although Qatar still managed to edge the set 17-16.
In the shoot-out, Qatar goalkeeper Rashid Yusuf stopped the first and third shots to secure his team’s victory. All the Qatar players helped themselves to goals.
Yusuf was outstanding throughout the game as he foiled several attempts by the Croatians, but gave credit of the win to entire team.
“It was a team effort. We all played well today and hope to keep the momentum going. Feels good to get two wins in a day,” the star goal-keeper said.
The hosts’ victory over 2018 world champion bronze medallists Hungary yesterday was their second over the east Europeans. Qatar won the bronze medal after defeating Hungary at the 10th World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, in 2017.
Qatar, who finished twice in the IHF World Men’s Beach Handball Championships, and has won the Asian Men’s Beach Handball Championship five times, will play Uruguay and Tunisia today in group matches.
In other matches yesterday, current world champions Brazil defeated the US and Uruguay, while European champions Denmark defeated Tunisia and Australia.

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