Asian champions Qatar recorded a hard-fought 33-30 win over Tunisia in the opening match of the Friendly International handball Tournament at Duhail Sports Hall yesterday.
The victory against the 10-time African champions will surely be a morale booster for the former World Championship silver medallists Qatar who are gearing up for the next edition of the IHF World Championship that will take place from January 13 to 31 in Egypt.
African runners-up Tunisia yesterday took an early lead before the hosts levelled the scores at two.
The Tunisians were once again in the lead after scoring back to back goals while Qatar’s score stood at four. Qatar again fought back to level the scores at eight and didn’t look back thereafter.
The hosts scored in regular intervals while Tunisians tried to catch up with them after trailing 8-12 behind. Qatar were leading 18-14 at halftime.
After the break, Tunisians made several attempts to comeback in the match but Qatar were smart enough to make use of most of the opportunities to score.
At one stage, Qatar led by eight goals at 28-20. Tunisia, desperately in need of a heroic fightback, then scored four in a row to narrow the gap.
However, Al Annabi did not allow the visitors to make any upsets and went on to win the opener.
The five-day event of continental giants, being staged as part of preparations for the next month’s World Handball Championships in Egypt.
Al Annabi will next face South American winners Argentina tomorrow at 6pm after European champions Spain open their campaign against Tunisia at 4pm.
The third day of the event will see Argentina taking on Spain before squaring off with Tunisia on the final day, with Qatar wrapping up the event in anticipated match against Spain.
Qatar, in preparations for the IHF World, underwent several training camps in the last few months besides featuring in a number of friendly matches including games against top clubs of Qatar.
At next month’s IHF event, Al Annabi, drawn in Group C, open their campaign against Angola in what will be a rematch of one of the most memorable matches from 2019 World Championships. The EURO 2020 runners-up Croatia and Japan are the other teams in their group.