NANJING: Qatar will take on defending champions Egypt in an all-Arab semi-final of handball at the second Youth Olympic Games tomorrow.
At the Jiangning Sports Centre yesterday, Asia champions Qatar had a slow start again and once they fell behind, it was difficult for them to halt the slump and beat the challenge of Slovenia. As a result, Qatar lost the match 23-38 and an opportunity to top the pool.
Still Qatar have chance to show their true colours, if they beat Egypt in the next match and advance to the final.
The other semi-final pitches Norway against Slovenia. In the remaining Group A match, unbeaten Egypt got past Brazil 29-23 after leading by six goals at the interval (16-10).
After four goals in four minutes, Jakob Bedeti made a go-ahead strike and Slovenia did not look behind after that. They built up a gap of four goals in 10 minutes and it widened to eight goals by 15 minutes (11-3).
Qatar made numerous attempts to reduce the margin but their players faced stiff resistance from the rivals. The narrowest they could bring down the difference was six goals which turned into seven goals at the interval (17-10).
The problems continued to multiply even in the second session. Despite time-outs by coach Chouhaib Kafi, the fortunes kept nose-diving and eventually Qatar lost the match and settled for second place in the group.
Gal Marguc was the sharpest shooter of the match, netting nine goals in 15 shots. Tilen Sokolic and Blaz Janc supported him well to get seven and six, respectively.
For Qatar, their main scorers Amine Guehis, Amor Dhiab and Noomen Ahmadi were marked tightly and not allowed to cause serious damage. Abdulaziz Helali, Nour Ahmed and Faruk Colo shared 12 goals to be the main scorers.
Coach Kafi said the prime objective of the team was to reach the semi-finals, which the team did. “We succeeded to secure our first goal of making it to the last four stage. But in the next match against holders Egypt, there is a lot at stake for us.
“The match against Slovenia left a lot to be desired. But I feel it should not prove any kind of distraction in our preparations to meet Egypt with full mental and physical resources. The team put in a great deal of efforts during the group phase.
“But now the time has come when we will have to pool in a greater effort, while trying to reach the final. It is going to be another tough clash but we’ll see how our team can shape up. The team has ability to raise its level and hopefully, it will do Qatar proud in the semi-finals,” added Kafi.