The key match-up on the final day was clearly the bronze medal game between Saudi Arabia and Japan. Much to the delight of the large crowd of fanatic supporters, the Saudis managed to win by the score of 24-20 and secured the qualification for Spain 2013. The critical phase of the game seemed to be the early part of the second half, where the home team pulled away by as many as seven goals and never allowed the Japanese to get close again.
It was in a sense anticlimactic, when later on Korea lived up to its pre-Championship role as a favorite by defeating Qatar in the final. The final result was as close as 23-22 (10-11), but Korea in fact had a four-goal lead late in the game. Veteran star Kyung Shin Yoon is reported to have used his skills and experience to make a big difference in yet another important game.
Japan seemed remarkably feeble in both the semifinal and in the bronze medal game. In the semi-final they allowed Qatar to move ahead with 32-23, before the Qatari relaxed a bit and the final margin was reduced to 33-28. The Koreans seemed to be in for a similar fate in their semifinal, after having been so solid in the group play. They were behind 15-21 with only 15 minutes left, but a sudden 11-2 turnaround for Korea led to an eventual 27-26 victory.
In the placement matches, Iran took 5th place after defeating Bahrain 25-20, and the United Arab Emirates narrowly defeated the disappointing Kuwaitis with 31-29 in the fight for 7th place. Finally, in the game that involved the teams who had lost all their games in group play, Jordan managed to get a victory in the end, beating Uzbekistan 32-30.
It is noticeable that China did not participate in the event. Perhaps the rather weak performances of both the men’s and women’s teams in the Olympic qualifying just a few months ago had convinced the Chinese authorities to withhold their support. In recent years, Thailand had started participating in Asian Championships, but more recently they have disappeared again. And then one wonders when India will be able to put together a competitive team.
So following this event and the Olympic qualifying back in December, we now have a situation where Korea has captured the Asia places in the London Olympics for both men and women, with Japan being in the qualifying tournaments for both categories in a few months time. In other words, no West Asian team will have a chance to be in the Olympics this time. But after today’s results, we have Qatar and Saudi Arabia joining Korea for the Men’s 2013 World Championships.
For a more complete overview of the picture regarding Olympic and World Championship qualifying, you are strongly recommended to use the links in the right-hand margin on our home page to go to the great overview pages that John Ryan always maintain updated; the best source anywhere for this kind of information in one convenient location!