NANJING: Asian champions Qatar displayed superb fighting qualities in the first session but could not sustain the resistance and lost the semi-final to holders Egypt 26-34 in the men’s handball at the second Youth Olympic Games yesterday.
For the gold medal today, Egypt take on Slovenia, who edged Norway 33-30 after trailing by a goal after the first-half.
Qatar still have a lot at stake as they have clash with Norway for the bronze medal match.
The Jiangning Sports Centre had a sizeable crowd for the semi-finals and those present included International Handball Federation President Hassan Moustafa and Qatar Handball Association President Ahmed Al Shaabi.
Qatar drew a big support from the local fans and showed both resolution and grit in the first half in which they had fallen behind by five goals (5-11) soon after the mid-stage. Faruk Colo, Jovo Damjankovic, Abdelaziz Helali and Amine Guehis struck a goal each to cut short the deficit to 10-11.
Then Egypt continued to score and Qatar managed to keep the margin within a goal and they finished the first-half with Egypt going 15-14 ahead.
But in the second session, things changed dramatically. With French referees Karim Gasmi and Raouf Gasmi, who had supervised Qatar’s previous match against Slovenia, made some decisions at which the Qatari team management showed its displeasure.
After eight minutes into the second-half, Egypt forged 18-16 ahead and Qatar again hammered a goal through Dhiab. That was the closest Qatar could come to Egypt and the African champions then slowly wrested the game from Qatar and finished it with eight-goal difference.
Aly Refaat led the scoring for the winners, striking nine goals in 16 attempts. Hady Morsy had a brilliant game and he had a perfect record of seven goals in as many shies. Omar Belal and Ahmed Abdelaal also lent a commendable hand to the top scorers. Belal contributed six and Abdelaal chipped in with five.
For Qatar, Guehis topped the scoring sheet with seven. Damjankovic netted four and Amor Dhiab, who had starred in his team’s Asian Youth Games gold medal victory against South Korea in Nanjing last year, also struck four.
Helali and Colo both shared six goals, while Salem Braham and Moustafa Heiba got two each. Nour Ahmed had one goal to his name.
Qatar’s coach Chouaib Kafi said Qatar were impressive in the early parts of the match but the refereeing by the French duo was a big let-down.
“It was a match between two best teams of the Arab world. We played good handball and fought hard against defending champions. But the French referees did not officiate well. They committed many mistakes which were even obvious to fans present in the hall.
It is worth mentioning that the French pair had supervised the group match of Qatar against Slovenia and even in that match, there were some decisions which were doubtful.
The coach also said, “The match was not good for us. My players are young and lacked some experience. Though this is a hard lesson, we will definitely learn and improve from this loss. Our goal was to play either for the gold or the silver medal. That dream has been shattered but we still have plenty to play for,” he said.
“We will focus hard on the third-place playoff and play with determination against Norway and hopefully, we will go home with our heads high,” added the Qatari coach.