Handball/World Championship.Qatar lives a desert crossing

Six years after its home World Cup final, Qatar is struggling to confirm the international handball arena. After missing out on qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, the gas emirate will retaliate during the 2021 World Cup, which begins on Friday.

Qatar’s investment in handball is not limited to the star team with Paris Kobelco, its goal is to transform into a large sports club: Qatar qualifiers created by naturalization, won by France in the World Cup final (25-22) 2015 year.

prudence and modesty

This year’s ambitions are more modest: “The goal is to be part of the top eight teams,” said coach Valero Rivera, a technologist with the technology.

The World Cup in Egypt, two months from Olympic qualifiers and six months from the Olympics, will be good for surprises. But in the absence of the Olympics, the Qataris’ choice could make it a target, so caution is being exercised.

An entry loss against Angola (24-23) two years ago – Qatar found its entry into the game this Friday – stripped it of its place in the main round of the last World Cup.

So Qatar-Tunisia hub Youssef Benelli, protagonist of the 2015 adventure, did not want to advance: “We want a good level, a good game, a good quality, he outlined it simply. Of course, we will do our best to defend Our country and our colors. »

Like Paris Saint-Germain, who have yet to win the Champions League in handball despite seven national titles, the Qatari, four-time defending Asian champions, are not confirmed at a higher level.

Beaten by Bahrain (28-26) in the semi-finals of the Asian Olympics, they will miss their meeting in Tokyo.

Even with a “generational change” triggered by the fusion of “many young people”, as Yusuf Benelli describes it, the backbone of the squad is still made up of players from 2015.

Starting with indestructible goalkeeper Danijel Saric (43), he is a Bosnian. There are also Rafael Capote (33) from the Cuban rear, Kamal Al-Din Marash (29), a hub of Syrian origin, or Erdar Memisevic (28) from the Bosnian rear. age)……

“A decent preparation”

According to their coach, a “difficult” Group C awaits them, with Croatia a finalist in the last European Cup and Japan will accompany Angola.

Youssef Benali described that the team had an internship in Doha “to prepare (not the best but respectable)”.

Despite health concerns, Qatar was able to test itself at the end of December with a series of reassuring home friendlies.

“We beat a great team Tunisia (33-30) and Argentina (24-22) who improved year after year,” recalled Youssef Benelli. He and his partner ended up losing to Spain (28-26).

“They have more players playing in Europe, they have speed, experience and quality. It was a very, very good game, Pivot pleaded. We made some mistakes in the last few minutes and it got Spain out competition. “

The good news is that Qatar cannot meet Spain before the semi-finals​​. By then, the top 8 goals, designed by Valero Rivera, will have been achieved.

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