Defending champions Qatar outplayed Iraq 37-22 for their second straight win in Group C of the Asian Handball Championship in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday. Qatar, who had beaten Oman a day earlier, will play their last group match against the UAE on Thursday.
Rafael Capote, who played a lead role against Oman, was conspicuous by his absence against Iraq. But thanks to Frankis Carol Marzo, Ahmad Madadi and Eldar Memisevic, the four-time Asian champions raced to a comfortable 6-2 lead early.
If Iraq, who stunned the UAE in their first game, entertained some hopes of an upset win over the defending champions, they were quickly dashed. Qatar’s sturdy back-line and goalkeeper Rashid Youssef held firm, halting several moves.
The experienced Mahmoud Zaki donned the role of a playmaker to perfection. He calmly moved the ball around, stitching together goal-bound moves. Qatar ended the first half with an eight-goal advantage (17-9).
Though Iraq managed to close the gap to four goals (15-19) at one point, they could not build on it. With 15 minutes remaining, Qatar led by eight goals (25-17). The lead soon swelled to 11 goals (29-18) and the match’s outcome was clear.
Iraq tried hard for a late fightback, but the gap between the teams — in terms of goals and quality — was simply too great to bridge.