Rafael Capote returned to international action with a bang, powering Qatar to a convincing 28-23 victory over Bahrain in their main round clash at the World Handball Championship here on Saturday.
The win helped Qatar maintain their slim chances of making the quarter-finals after they fell to Denmark in the opening match of the main round a couple of days ago.
Both teams had a slow start in the match, each of them netting just once in the first eight minutes. Qatar’s Yassine Sami opened the score before Mohammed Ahmed drew level from the 7m line.
After that, Bahrain started to demonstrate their powerful attack – yet, they were still tied at 4:4 in the 12th minute. Then Qatar took the initiative, though, and goals by Capote propelled them to an 8:5 lead.
After a time-out taken by coach Halldor Sigfusson, Bahrain started to play a more disciplined game and hit back, as Mahdi Saad drew level at 12:12.
In the 27th minute, Mohammed Ahmed scored his fourth goal in the game to give Bahrain their first lead (13:12) and his fifth goal helped them to stay in front at half-time.
Capote, who only recently joined Qatar’s squad and played his first match at the event, was hard to stop early in the second half, and he helped the team to turn the tide. Following a 7:2 run, Valero Rivera’s men were up by four goals by minute 42 (20:16).
“Even though Capote was sick and did not train for three weeks, he helped us a lot. I’m proud of my team who did an excellent job in the second half,” Rivera said after the match.
While Capote finished the game with nine and Frankis Marzo added eight more, Qatar’s experienced goalkeeper Danijel Saric recorded many saves, limiting their rivals to just four goals between the 31st and 54th minute.
By then, Qatar led 25:18 and although Bahrain woke up in the last few minutes of the match, it was too late for them as Rivera’s team went on to claim two points in this Gulf derby.
Qatar have featured regularly in matches against Bahrain at the Asian level, winning most of the encounters, including some tough ones.
But yesterday, Qatar’s supremacy was never in doubt as they had it relatively easy despite the injury issues with the squad.
“We succeeded in beating Bahrain despite certain difficulties,” said team director Youssef al-Hail.
“Although the match proved tough in the first half, we more than made up for it in the second half to achieve this deserved victory,” he added.
Qatar player Yusuf bin Ali was pleased with the team’s effort.
"It was a strong Gulf derby, and a difficult match, as the Bahraini team played very well during the first half,” said bin Ali.
“But we produced a good performance in the second half and emerged victorious.”
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