QATARI players put up a strong performance in the ongoing World Championship in France.
Qatar had finished as surprise runners-up in 2015 at home in the International Handball Federation’s biennial competition, losing to France in the final.
But that dream run was not without controversy as they were taunted in some quarters for fielding a squad largely comprising naturalised players.
They arrived in Paris with a rejigged squad, which had just two players who changed their nationality recently — Bosnian goalkeeper Danijel Saric and French winger Bertrand Roine.
Qatar, led by Abdulrazzaq Murad, were drawn into a strong group alongside heavyweights Denmark, Sweden and Egypt, and naturally expectations were low. Despite losing to the ‘big three’, Qatar earned a knockout berth as the fourth qualifier, thanks to victories against Bahrain and Argentina.
But in the round of 16, Qatar stunned European champions Germany 21-20 in a thriller, in what has been the biggest upset of the tournament.
Germany were leading 10-9 after the first half, but Qatar, aided by winger Rafael Capote’s match-high nine goals, upped the ante in the second to send strong signals to other title favourites.
Qatar’s Spanish coach Valero Rivera said his team deserved more credit.
“Qatar deserve a little more respect. We’ve worked hard to reach this level,” said the Barcelona legend, who has been at the Gulf team’s helm since 2013.