Favourites Qatar are targeting a winning start to their title defence as they take on Oman in their opening match of the Asian Men’s Handball Championship, which begins in Saudi Arabian city of Dammam today.
Qatar have been unstoppable in the Asian Championship, winning four consecutive titles in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020.
This year’s continental event is also serving as a qualifier for the 2023 World Men’s Handball Championship as top five teams from the event will enter the global competition to be jointly hosted by Poland and Sweden.
After meeting Oman in their first Group C match today, Al Annabi will take on Iraq tomorrow before meeting the UAE on Thursday in their last game of the first stage.
The 16-team event sees South Korea, Kuwait, Jordan and Singapore pitted in Group A while hosts Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia and India form Group B. The Group D includes Bahrain, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
The top two sides from each group will advance to the next stage, which will see eight teams – divided into two groups – in action ahead of the semi-final stage. Japan, who were placed in Group D, withdrew from the event due to several positive COVID-19 cases.
Qatar – the 2015 world silver medalists – are the top ranked side at the Asian Championship sitting 14th in the world rankings. Bahrain (31st) are closest to Al Annabi in the world rankings.
Nine-time winners South Korea, who were defeated by Qatar in the previous edition’s final, are the only side to win five titles in a row from 1983 to 1993, with Qatar having a golden opportunity to match the feat in Dammam.
Valero Rivera-coached Qatar underwent extensive preparations for the Asian Championship, taking part in an international event at home in November before meeting Egypt and Iraq in a series of friendly matches earlier this month.
Ahmed Mohamed Maddi, Rafael de Costa Capote, Bilal Labinca, Alaeddin Nabil Belrashid, Salem Anwar Al Jadeed, Rashid Yusef Olkonel, Ibrahim Shebl Obaid, Hamad Mohamed Maddi, Ahmed Magdy Abdel Rahim, Marwan Ali Sassi, Youssef Tayeb Ben Ali, Abdel Rahman Tariq Al Abdullah, Wajdi Ibrahim Sinan, Mahmoud Ahmed Zaki, Ali Inad Al Diri, Elder Mossoufik, Amin Moafaq Zakar, Kamal El Din Imad Malach, Yassin Sami Hammadi, Franks Carol Marzo, Anadine Jesseifis, Ahmed Nader Naseem, Mustafa Amir Heiba, Anis Abdel Razak Zawawi