By Latiful Karim Khan, from Lusail Multipurpose Hall, Doha, Qatar, Jan 28, 2015: Hosts Qatar continued their impressive show in the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship 2015 as they clenched into the semi-finals.
At Lusail Multipurpose Hall, the Asian Games champions overcame a fighting Germany 26-24 to book their maiden entry into the World Championship last four.
With the victory the hosts became the only Asian country to make it to the last four stage of the world championship and will take on the Poland, who defeated Croatia 24-22, tomorrow.
Qatar coach Valero Rivera was ecstatic with the performance of his boys.
Qatar rode on the brilliance of Rafael Capote (8 goals), Zarko Markovic (6 goals) and Borja Vidal (4 goals) coupled with the brilliance of goalkeepers Danijel Saric and Goran Stojanovic, to script their best-ever performance at the world stage.
Rivera’s team performed convincingly against former champions Germany throughout the match to emerge deserving winners. The hosts made their intentions clear from the outset by playing a fast and fluent game.
A partisan crowd of about 11,500 roared Qatar to victory with former HSV Hamburg player Zarko Markovic scoring his 50th goal in the championship for the home side.
Both teams started the game in an electric atmosphere. Qatar, encouraged by incredibly colourful and vociferous support, was eager to open the score but the Germans found the net first in the second minute of the match.
The German team clearly wanted to increase the score and they were active in laying a siege around the Qatari goal. However, the Qataris broke the German siege and equalised in the fourth minute.
The game looked very tight as both teams exchanged their extremely meticulous attacking efforts. The Qatari keeper Saric was particularly good at repelling German shots.
After six minutes, Qatar took the lead but the Germans equalised almost instantly. From there onwards Qatar started to concentrate on their sharp shooting and after equalising, increased their lead after a couple of subsequent penalties.
Midway through the first half, the Qataris had a four-goal advantage with Markovic and Capote keeping up the offensive pressure. Weinhold was instrumental in Germany’s scoring efforts.
The pace of the game increased in the last third of the opening half with Qatar concentrating on widening their lead. Even as the Germans fought back, Qatar’s lead was hardly ever less than five goals.
In the second half, teams continued exchanging fast breaks and quality goals. Labouring back, Germany managed to narrow the gap to one. It clearly appeared as though the German squad was rejuvenated during the break.
By the end of it all, however, the Qataris stood their ground and overcame the formidable German barrier. The win sparked jubilant scenes among a packed and excited crowd as the hosts kept alive the dream of a home victory at the championships.
German captain Uwe Gensheimer, who was the top scorer with five goals for his team, also lauded Qatar’s efforts as he said: “Qatar deserved to win today. I am disappointed we didn’t play to the best of our abilities at the highest level. We couldn’t manage to take a confident lead.”
Qatar goalkeeper Saric, who had two superb stops at crucial moments, was delighted with his team’s victory.
“We are very happy and satisfied. The first half was extraordinary and in the second half we gave everything to achieve this great victory. Playing in the semi-finals is the best thing that happened in our career. We deserve to be there, so does the whole country of Qatar.”