By Sports Reporter/ Doha
• Qatar top Group I at the Asian championship after South Korea forfeit their final main round match as many of their players were laid low by Covid-19
Qatar yesterday qualified for the 2023 IHF World Men’s Handball Championships to be held in Poland and Sweden without having to take to court in the 2022 Asian Men’s Handball Championship in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
The four-time Asian champions and 2015 World Championship runners-up Qatar topped Group I of the Main round of the ongoing Asian championship after South Korea forfeited their final main round match as many of their players were laid low by Covid-19.
After South Korea’s withdrawal, Qatar reached the semi-final of the Asian Championship with 6 points with Saudi Arabia finishing runners-up in Group 1 with 4 points.
Top five teams from the Asian Championship will qualify for the World Championship to be jointly hosted by Poland and Sweden.
Qatar will make their ninth appearance in the World Championship having previously played at the Worlds in Portugal 2003, Tunisia 2005, Germany 2007, Spain 2013, Qatar 2015, France 2017, Germany and Denmark 2019, and Egypt 2021 World Championships.
Qatar had finished as the runners-up in 2015 when the nation played host to the handball showpiece.
South Korea, who hold record eight Asian titles, were unfortunate. Their forfeiting the match, as per the rules, saw the result being ruled 10-0 in favour of Qatar. Qatar will now play Iran in the semi-final at 4pm on Saturday.
Iran lost their final Main round match to Bahrain 26-36 (10-19) yesterday which saw them finish second in Group II. Bahrain, who won all the three matches, finished on top with six points and will meet Saudi Arabia in the other semis, also on Saturday (6pm).
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia beat Uzbekistan in their third and final main round match 31-24 (12-11) at the Ministry of Sports Hall in Dammam yesterday.
In Group II, Iraq and Kuwait played out a thrilling tie 25-25 (7-14) which saw the two sides finishing with a point each.
Qatar have won the Asian Championships 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 editions and can match South Korea’s record of five straight titles with a crown in Saudi Arabia. Since winning their first Championship in 2014, Qatar have been unstoppable in the continental tournament, beating Bahrain in three finals and South Korea in the last edition two years ago in Kuwait. The 2015 world silver medallists could match the record for most title victories in a row, currently held by South Korea from 1983-1993.
South Korea is the most successful team in history with nine titles, but the last of these came in 2012. Their best performance since then was at the last tournament, losing 33-21 in the final. However, they are down to sixth on the continent in the world rankings, sitting 49th worldwide.
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