NANJING: Asia champions Qatar got into the semi-finals of the men’s handball of the second Youth Olympic Games with Tunisia being humiliated in their second and last group match by Slovenia 12-33.
The defeat for the African team, which was the second one in as many matches, ended its challenge and sent Qatar into the last four stage.
Qatar had beaten Tunisia in their opening match by 26-23.
With one win each under their belt, both Qatar and Slovenia will play today at 3pm (Qatar time) for the top spot in the Pool B.
In the Pool A, Norway bounced back from their defeat by Egypt and downed Brazil.
Their 33-31 victory kept their hopes for a spot in the last four alive. Today, Brazil face Egypt and if Brazil lose again, both Egypt and Norway will move ahead.
Qatar will seek to end the group phase on a winning note as it will take them to the top of the Pool B and give them a chance to meet most probably Norway, a weaker team compared to defending champions Egypt.
The return of strong defender Adson Bajric, who was red-carded against Tunisia early into the match, will certainly reinforce Qatar’s defence.
Qatar Team manager Khalifa al Teyseer was excited with his team’s entry into the final four stage and commented: “It is nice to know that we’ve reached the semi-finals but our mission has not ended. We have to continue to work hard with all with all resources to achieve other goals that we have set for ourselves.”
He added: “We beat Tunisia yesterday to take a step forward. With Tunisia now out, we can go all out and take on Slovenia with an aim to topping the pool. We’re thinking about one match at a time and our preparations are on track for the last group match against Slovenia on Friday and hopefully, the outcome will be in our favour.”
Team coach Chouhaib Kafi Issued Shoaib stressed on a total focus on the match against Slovenia.
“We’re not here just to take things lying down. We’ll fight hard and make all efforts that we can in order to beat Slovenia and finish as the group toppers,” he said.
“We postponed the victory celebration after beating Tunisia. The match against Slovenia will not be easy, we know. But we’re well prepared for this match. I have full confidence in the abilities of my players and hopefully, things will fall in place the way we want.”
Team doctor Mohammed Trabelesi had a busy time in keeping the players fit. Qatar had a few injury worries, including the goalkeeper, after the Tunisia’s rough and violent play in the first match. Defender Omar Abdel-Fattah had got a minor injury but he is fully fit now to play the next match.
Meanwhile, Idriss Yousef is eyeing a place in the 800m final when the qualifying heats begin at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre at 9pm today. The Qatari runner completed his training and he faces the first test of preparations in the field of 21 runners. His race time in today’s heat will be something to watch as he is among the five runners who are leading this season.
Yousef’s season best of 1:51.85 has been his best performance as well and only one runner, Swiss Tom Elmer, has produced a sub-1:51 time. The weather of Nanjing should also assist Yousef do well to get confidence and rhythm ahead of the finals.
Yousef hoped to secure his first goal of qualifying for the finals and he added he worked hard during his camp in Aspire Academy, which has shaped him well and strong.
Also today, Hamad al Qadi will be pitted in the individual show jumping competition today. There will be two rounds with the second round taking place tomorrow.
Qadi is feeling more comfortable than before after spending more time with horse Fernando.
“I had a camp in Germany for two months and I feel I’m ready for the big moment. My aim is to do as well as I can and then let us hope for the best results,” said Qadi.