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Date: 2/7/2014

The first mission of coach Valero Rivera and his team was fulfilled at 20:46 local time in the Bahrain capital of Manama on Thursday (6 February). By beating the host in a fully thrilling final by 27:26 (14:14) Qatar have become Men’s Asian Champions for the first time ever. Like Denmark in Europe and in contrast to Algeria in Africa, the host of the continental championship made it to the final, but missed the title. Like in 2010 (below Korea), Bahrain finished as the runners-up despite a huge support from the sold-out arena in Manama.
For Qatar it is the next – and highly important – step towards hosting the 2015 World Championship. After losing the 2012 Asian Championship final highly close against Korea, the Qatari team danced on the field, hugged and high-fived by their new coach Valero Rivera.
Even for the most successful coach ever in the history of handball – 73 domestic and international titles with Barcelona, World Champion 2013 with Spain – Wednesday was a new chapter, as it was the first ever continental title for Rivera after missing the European Championship with Spain in 2010 closely. 
But like their 23:22 semi-final victory against later bronze medallist Iran, the final of the two only unbeaten teams of the tournament was anything but easy for the newly crowned champions. Bahrain was on eye level for all 60 minutes, mainly thanks to their movable and offensive defence. Most of the time in the second half Qatar forged ahead by one goal, and Bahrain equalized right with the next attack.
It took Qatar until minute 58, when Megdich Nasreddine scored the 26:24 – the first two-goal distance after the break – to arrive on the winners’ way. Bahrain was still not cast-off, and managed to reduce to one goal. In the final minute both teams took time-outs, but in the end Qatar cleverly played down the clock to win 27:26. 
When the final whistle was blown, the Qatari team danced on the field and later jumped on the podium after the winners’ trophy was handed over. Later they shattered their anthem, played live by a military music band, as loud as never before.
Prior to that, Iran had won their first ever medal at a Men’s Asian Championship by clearly beating United Arab Emirates in the bronze final 29:23 after a close first half (11:10). Alongside host Qatar, all those three teams had already qualified for the 2015 World Championship by entering the semi-finals.
Qatar (clean record of seven victories in seven matches in Bahrain) have completed their Asian title triple after becoming men’s youth and men’s junior champions. Now the team of Valero Rivera is aiming for the best ever result at a World Championship – which means to reach at least the eighth-finals on home ground in one year.

Result summary of the 16th Men’s Asian Championship:
Bahrain vs. Qatar 26:27 (14:14)

Bronze final: 
United Arab Emirates vs. Iran 23:29 (10:11)

Bahrain vs. United Arab Emirates 27:20 (15:8)
Qatar vs. Iran 23:22 (12:11)

Placement Round 9-12:
China vs. Iraq 25:30 (11:17)
Japan vs. Uzbekistan 41:12 (18:7)

Placement matches:
11/12: China vs. Uzbekistan 10 :0 (Uzbekistan withdrew)
9/10: Japan vs. Iraq 28:20 (17:11)

Placement Round 5-8:
Korea vs. Oman 32:17 (12:10)
Kuwait vs. Saudi Arabia 30:36 (18:16)

Placement matches:
7/8: Oman vs. Kuwait 26:35 (9:16)
5/6: Korea vs. Saudi Arabia 30:25 (15:15)

Final ranking:
GOLD: Qatar
SILVER: Bahrain
4. United Arab Emirates
5. Korea
6. Saudi Arabia
7. Kuwait
8. Oman
9. Japan
10. Iraq
11. China
12. Uzbekistan