Doha, 13 January 2021 - Asian champions Qatar are ready to take on Angola in their first match of the 27th Men's World Handball Championsip that kicks off in Egypt today.
Qatar, coached by Valero Rivera of Spain, fly out to Egypt tomorrow.
The 2015 World Championships runners-up open their campaign with a match against Angola on Friday.
Qatar face Japan on Jan 17 followed by a match against Croatia on Jan 19.
Last week, President of the Qatar Handball Association (QHA) Dr Ahmad Mohamed Al Shaabi said Asian champions Qatar will be aiming to top the preliminary group.
“We must aim to win the three matches in the first phase because any loss will make our mission difficult in the second round. Therefore it is important to lead the group in order to maintain our chances and rhythm in the second stage,” Dr Al Shaabi said in an interview.
“Despite the difficulties we have faced in our preparation, nothing can diminish our desire to achieve better results,” he said.
“Matches at the World Championship, in general, remain difficult for all participating teams and competing against the best sides is not easy at all,” he added. “The World Championship is the strongest competition and we always prepare for it well, but this time the preparation was not in the required manner. Our preparation was not at the level we were keen to have due to the circumstances that world sport has experienced as a result of the Corona pandemic sweeping the globe,” he said.
In recent years, Qatar have established themselves as the dominant Asian force. Qatar have won the Asian title thrice and reached the World Championship final on home soil in 2015.
“We wanted to play a big number of friendly matches against strong teams, but we were not able to do so due to the COVID-19 situation. The matches that the national team played were limited. We played friendly matches against Tunisia, Argentina and Spain,” he said.
The QHF President said the impact of the Corona pandemic on the preparations of other teams, especially European sides, is relatively less ‘as they have strong competitive leagues’.
“Usually we try to cover this big difference in preparation against our European rivals by conducting long overseas camps and bringing in prominent professionals at our clubs, but this did not happen in the last season (in Qatar) and therefore our rivals have the advantage in the World Championship,” he said.
He explained that the presence of Spanish coach Rivera ‘is one of the positive factors’ for Qatar squad.
He said coach Rivera knows the rival teams, their players and tactics.
Dr Al Shaabi said Qatar being among the top 10 teams in the world would be a good achievement for the national squad.
“We are facing great challenges after we reached the World Championship (Qatar 2015) final. We cannot deny that the teams in our World Championship group - Croatia, Japan and Angola - are tough opponents,” he said.