Asian Championship: Preliminary round completed

The last two days of the group play offered, as expected, some excitement in important games between evenly matched teams. The results were:

Gr. A Saudi Arabia-China 20-22
Gr. D Iran-Lebanon 25-16
Gr. B Japan-Bahrain 31-27
Gr. C Korea-Qatar 29-23

This means that China failed to qualify for the main round, but it was really close. China needed to win by 4 goals and had a 3-goal lead close to the end, but that was as close as it got. The new Chinese team will now have more time to gain experience in time for future events. In the meantime, Syria (as group winner) and Saudi Arabia are in the main round.

Iran gained a rather comfortable victory against Lebanon. The home team again got good crowd support, but they were simply a bit too thin in comparison with a more solid and experienced adversary. But Lebanon is still in the main round as a runner-up, after the earlier victory against Jordan.

The young Japanese team now played a more convincing game against the Bahrainis, who are never an easy opponent. However, both teams could play without nerves, as they had both beaten the Iraqi team earlier. Japan is now the group winner.

Today’s drama came in the Korea-Qatar encounter. It was one of those awkward situations, where one team (U.A.E.) can just sit and watch, hoping for the best. And conversely, one could say that Korea had the fate of both teams in their hands, after having previously beaten U.A.E. with 30-23. As the Qatar-U.A.E. game ended in a tie, precisely 30-23 was now a pivotal result in today’s game, as this would have made it necessary to resort to a coin toss for the final main round place. And it came close, as Korea’s lead oscillated between 6 and 9 goals. But the final result was 29-23. Surely a somewhat bitter ending for the U.A.E, but at least the coin toss was avoided…

The main round starts on Saturday and goes on for three days with round-robin play in the following two groups; the best two in each group advance to the semifinals, with a chance for the three slots in the 2011 World Championship. One could say that this is where the Championship really starts:

Gr. A: Iran, Japan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia
Gr. B: Korea, Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain

The ‘consolation matches’ include China-U.A.E on Sunday and Iraq-Jordan on Monday; the winners later play for 9th place and the losers for 11th place.