Asian beach handball champs Qatar in tight group
Draw ceremonies for two team sports for the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games held in Doha.
Hosts Qatar were handed a difficult draw in men’s beach handball in the Association of National Olympic Committee’s (ANOC) inaugural World Beach Games in October.
The draw ceremony for two team sports – beach soccer and beach handball – were held at the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) headquarters on Tuesday.
Qatar, five-time Asian beach handball champions, are in Group B, alongside World Championship runners-up Croatia, bronze medallists Hungary, Spain, Uruguay and Tunisia.
World champions Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Australia and Oman are in Group A.
Qatar’s coach Khaled Hassan said the October 12-16 event would be a tough outing.
“For ten years, we’ve been eagerly waiting to play a beach event in front of the home crowd. Now’s our chance. But things aren’t going to be easy as we’ll miss some our key players who’re also members of the national handball squad,” he said.
“The national team is preparing for the Asian qualification tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It’ll begin just a day after the World Beach Games ends. We’ll miss some of our strongest players, and that’s likely to affect our chances,” he told Inside Qatar.
In women’s handball, Denmark, Hungary, Argentina, USA and Tunisia are in Group A while Greece, Spain, Poland, China, Australia and Vietnam form Group B.
Meanwhile, 16 men’s and eight women’s teams will compete in beach soccer.
Among men, reigning FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup winners Brazil, Switzerland, Morocco and the UAE are in Group A.
European champions Italy, CONCACAF winners Mexico, Spain and Solomon Islands, make up Group B.
In Group C, Intercontinental Cup holders Iran will take on Paraguay, Ukraine and Senegal. The final group has Asia’s top team Japan locking horns with El Salvador, Uruguay and former world champions Russia.
In the women’s soccer draw, Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Cape Verde are in Group A while Group B features Great Britain, Russia, USA and Paraguay.
ANOC Secretary General Gunilla Lindberg said she was looking forward to an exciting competition.
“Organising the World Beach Games is our biggest dream and I thank Qatar for helping us realise it. The days ahead are going to be tough, but we’re going to work hard. After the chefs de mission seminar, this is another major milestone for us. I wish the teams the best,” she said.
QOC Secretary General Jassim bin Rashid Al Buenain said Qatar was ready for the path-breaking event. “We’re always ready for new challenges. We’ll strive to make this an event to remember.”