*** ----> Bahrain boost semis hopes | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Bahrain boost semis hopes

TDT | Manama                                                     

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Bahrain outclassed Iraq 25-20 last night to boost their chances of securing a place in the semi-finals of the 21st Asian Men’s Handball Championship, currently being hosted by the Kingdom.

After a tight start, the home side began to pull away from their opponents in the last few minutes of the first half.

They then rode their momentum into the concluding 30-minute period to claim the all-import win— their first of the main round following a draw with South Korea on Thursday. Mohammed Habib Nasser came up with crucial goals in the closing minutes.

He was later named the Best Player of the Game.

The result put the Bahrainis in first place on the Group Two standings where they are hoping to secure a place in the last four along with nine-time winners South Korea, Kuwait and the Iraqis.

The South Koreans and Kuwaitis played to a 27-all stalemate in yesterday’s other divisional clash.

They are tied on points in the Group Two table, behind Bahrain and ahead of Iraq.

Meanwhile, five-time defending champions Qatar and top contenders Japan booked their berths in the semi-finals following big wins yesterday in Group One.

The Qataris defeated Iran 27-23 while the Japanese ousted the UAE 29-26.

The final four contests are scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

The winners of Group One will take on the runners-up in Group Two, and the Group One runners-up will face the top seeds from Group Two.

Deadlock In Bahrain’s win last night, a Hassan Shehab goal from the six-metre line broke a 10-all deadlock and fuelled a national team surge.

The hosts took a 13-10 advantage into the interval, and after the break did well to hold on to their advantage.

The Iraqis fought back and got to within two goals, 18-20, but Bahrain replied with a Mohammed Habib Ahmed penalty and a pair of Nasser conversions to create some breathing room at 23-18 with less than four minutes to play.

Bahrain goalkeeper Mohammed Abdulhussain also had a key save on an Iraq fastbreak, helping preserve their advantage en route to closing out the contest.

In South Korea’s draw with Kuwait, the South Koreans led 12-10 at the break, but the Kuwaitis roared back to earn a share of the points.

The result was the second successive draw for both sides in this stage, ensuring what will be a thrilling finish to the main round campaign tomorrow.

In Group One yesterday, Qatar and Japan claimed their second wins of this stage with no losses, and will meet tomorrow to decide the winners of their division.

The Iranians and Emiratis suffered their second losses and are eliminated from further title contention.

They will still be playing for their best final classification, which includes a place at next year’s world championships for fifth place overall.

Today is a rest day with the main and consolation rounds wrapping up tomorrow at Khalifa Sports City Arena in Isa Town and the Bahrain Handball Association Arena in Um Al Hassam.