Asian Championship: Picture for Main Round getting clearer

Each group has 3 teams, and 2 of the 3 matches in each group have now been played. The Monday and Tuesday results were:

Gr. A Syria – China 28 – 21 (14 – 9)
Gr. D Iran – Jordan 39 – 23 (19 – 12)
Gr. B Iraq – Bahrain 19 – 30 (7 – 17)
Gr. C U.A.E. – Qatar 25 – 25 (12 – 12)

The win for Syria may seem surprising, but there is an explanation: China came with a new, young team; very tall and athletic players, but clearly without much handball experience. It is too early to how much talent they have for the longer term, but more immediately it means that [u]China needs to defeat Saudi Arabia with at least 4 goals on Wednesday[/u] to avoid being eliminated. If they do no manage this, then the Saudi team will advance together with Syria. But at least it seems clear now that Syria is not a pushover.

Jordan became the first team to be eliminated after two straight defeats. Iran, with a new Russian coach replacing the previous one, had no difficulties in this game. What now remains to be seen is who will be the winner of the group, and thus higher seeded in the main round, after [u]the game between Iran and the home team Lebanon on Wednesday[/u]. Perhaps the spectators, who have been largely missing since the opening day, will now be back to create some crowd support and inspiration for their favorites.

Iraq today became the second team eliminated after the loss against Bahrain. The game was decided quite early, and Bahrain did not need to show full capacity. But this also means that it is difficult to have a clear sense for [u]what might happen in the game Japan-Bahrain on Thursday[/u]. Both teams will be in the main round, but who will be the group winner and seeded higher in the main round groups next week?

The rivalry between U.A.E. and Qatar had been expected to offer a close and exciting game, and the teams matched the expectations. It was tied at half-time and tied at the final whistle. The game was quite rough, with 2 ‘red cards’ and 18 suspensions. The referees from Iran, the most experienced couple of Asia, had their hands full. The team from U.A.E. now finds itself in the unusual position of having to cheer for Korea [u]on Thursday. U.A.E. will be out, unless Qatar loses by 7 or more against Korea[/u]. But perhaps the Qatari will be able to recharge the batteries quickly and surprise the Koreans…