During the first two days, with a total of four games, the Championship got off to a good start, with a peaceful atmosphere and in a general spirit of sportsmanship. Some teams played a bit rougher on defense than the others, but nothing extraordinary. With one exception, the games were also rather one-sided. The results were:
Gr. A Saudi Arabia – Syria 23:22 (12:9)
Gr. D Lebanon – Jordan 34:21 (14:9)
Gr. B Japan – Iraq 35-21 (19:13)
Gr. C Korea – U.A.E. 30-23 (13-12)
The Saudi team did not make the same strong impression as two years ago, and had to struggle to overcome a strong resistance from the Syrian team. It was not decided until the final seconds. It will now be interesting to see how the Chinese team compares with these two combatants.
The home team was supported by a crowd of around 2,000, including many dignitaries. The game was not played at a very high level, and the result says more about the weakness of the team from Jordan. Iran remains a clear favorite in this group, but the home team appears to have secured a spot in the main round.
Japan literally ran away from an inexperienced Iraqi team. The outcome became clear quite early in the game, even if the Japanese did not show an entirely convincing form yet. This suggests that Bahrain should also be able to get through to the next phase.
The Korean team was in for more of a battle than perhaps had been expected. In the second half, however, the Koreans, who came with a new coach and many young players, were able to pull away and win rather comfortably.
The Monday games are: Syria-China and Iran-Jordan;
On Tuesday we will see: Iraq-Bahrain and the friendly neighbors U.A.E.-Qatar