Qatar pummel Hong Kong in Asian Olympic qualifier
Allaeddine Berrached and Ahmad Madadi do the star turn for the hosts as they run out 49-14 winners.
A minute before Qatar’s game against Hong Kong in the Asian Olympic qualifiers ended, hundreds of fans at the Al Duhail Indoor Hall held up their mobile phones to flash them as an act of celebration.
But the Group A match had ended as a contest much earlier, with the hosts effortlessly dismantling the tournament debutants 49-14. The gulf in talent and tactics between the teams was apparent early in the game and Qatar’s coach Valero Rivera could afford to experiment with his combination.
Taking the court after Saudi Arabia’s 35-24 win over India in the opening game, Qatar started strongly and raced to a comfortable 7-1 lead in the first 10 minutes. Rivera then pulled back his key players Allaeddine Berrached and Ahmad Madadi and rotated the remaining ones.
It slightly slowed Qatar’s progress, with the hosts leading 12-2 after 20 minutes and 19-6 at half-time.
Post-break, Berrached (11 goals) returned to the attack and constantly prowled the rival area. Madadi (8) and Amir Denguir (six) gave him excellent support.
- GROUP A
- Saudi Arabia bt India 35-24
- Qatar bt Hong Kong 49-14
Hong Kong, mostly out of depth, did show flashes of brilliance. Kuo Sze Ming, who scored seven goals, was their best player.
Qatar suffered an injury scare in the 42nd minute when Berrached, running back after scoring his eighth goal, slipped and fell clutching his right ankle. He then limped back into the game after a few tense seconds.
With Qatar pushing for more goals, their game became sloppy and Hong Kong produced some goals from fast breaks. But that was all they could do in the end.
Rivera said his team displayed great intensity throughout. “We could’ve slowed down after half-time but I wanted them to keep pushing. We aim to preserve the same intensity until we qualify for Tokyo,” the Spaniard told Inside Qatar.
Madadi also was pleased to start the tournament well. “The first game is always important and we started well. The crowd support was incredible, and I thank the fans for being here,” he said.