Qatar defeats Bahrain in a dramatic final

Rivals Qatar and Bahrain in a tough battle

Rivals Qatar and Bahrain in a tough battle

Qatar were clearly the favorites in the Asian Championship, considering their recent progress and the special efforts they are making to have a strong team when they host the World Championship one year from now. And they lived up to expectations throughout the event, winning all their group matches with large margins and then defeating Iran in the semifinal.

But in the final they had to take on the home team, Bahrain, who probably had been the main surprise of this championship, for instance by winning their group ahead of Iran, Korea and Saudi Arabia. In the semifinal, the Bahraini had easily defeated the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain’s success has been made possible by strong efforts especially by the brothers Jaffar and Mahmood Abdul Qader. The final, where of course the Bahraini had strong crowd support in the fight against their rivals from Qatar, it was a very close encounter up to the very end. But to the frustration of their supporters, the Bahraini fell by a one-goal margin, 26-27, after 14-14 at half-time. It was a real battle, with tough methods and lots of provocations from both sides. A difficult job for the referees, but apparently a solid performance by Johansson/Kliko from Sweden.

As I reported earlier, the semi-finalists were already gaining spots in next year’s World Championship, regardless of the final ranking, where Iran today secured the bronze medals by winning against the U.A.E. The perennial top teams in the Asian continent, from Korea and Kuwait were a disappointment. As I have indicated, Korea failed to reach the semi-finals by the smallest of margins and got the fifth place by defeating Saudi Arabia in their final match. Kuwait placed seventh by beating Oman. But the real fiasco concerns the ranking of Japan in ninth and China in eleventh place, Japan has probably never before had such a weak showing, and China clearly has not made any progress following the Olympic Games. Should one draw the conclusion that the hegemony of the East Asians is now over, and that the Gulf States has once and for all by-passed them.

Looking ahead to the 2015 World Championship, almost half the field is now determined: Qatar; Spain (as defending champions); France, Denmark and Croatia from Europe; Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt from Africa; and now Bahrain, Iran and the United Arab Emirates from Asia. Nine of the remaining thirteen slots will go to the winner of the European play-off pairings in June, three will be determined in the PanAmerican Championship in Uruguay in June, and one place is for the winner in Oceania.