14 Oct. 2019
Sixty matches in the men’s and women’s beach handball competitions at the ANOC World Beach Games – Qatar 2019 have been completed as the tournament enters the knockout stages later today with the first of eight quarter-finals taking place.
The final set of preliminary round matches at the Al Gharafa Beach Handball Arena yesterday saw three games in group B of the men’s competition take place with Uruguay and Tunisia going to a shoot-out and becoming the very last match of the entire preliminary stage to end.
It would prove to be a little bit of North African beach handball history as Tunisia’s men defeated Uruguay to register their first-ever win in a global competition.
“It’s always a good feeling to win,” said Tunisia’s left wing Ahmed Sfar to IHF.info after the match. “It’s our first win here in Qatar because we have less experience than the other teams and that is why we don’t win more games.”
Uruguay had started the match knowing a win against the Tunisians, coupled with a Croatia win against Hungary, taking place at the same time on an adjoining court, would mean they would make it through to the quarter-finals after the South Americans had shocked the Hungarians in their previous match, defeating them via shoot-out.
However, midway through the second period of the Tunisia vs Uruguay match, Hungary sealed their win and Tunisia took advantage to power through to a 14:12 victory, after losing the first period 16:12.
The match went to a shoot-out with Uruguay initially 4:0 ahead but a disastrous run then saw them miss three in a row and Tunisia come back, firstly with Aimen Touzi ensuring the victory was within touching distance (6:4) before Uruguay equalised, but then Mohamed Maaouia grabbed the solitary point for the historic moment which also meant Oman ended the preliminary round as the only men’s team not to get a win.
“It’s always good to win, that’s important for us and for a win now in the Preliminary Group it means you can end with a better ranking.
“We want to have a good ranking, but we have played Spain, Qatar, Hungary and Croatia,” added Sfar, who won the African continental championship earlier this year at the African Beach Games.
“This is our first championship at this level and all the teams are at a high level here in every match from the start.”
With Tunisia’s women also playing in the beach handball competition at Qatar 2019, together, the teams support each other in games and work together to help promote and popularise the sport back home.
Later today, Tunisia’s women take on China in the first round of matches in the Placement Round 9-12, while the men face Oman at the same stage, and both can expect the support of each other during the evening clashes.
“We are one family,” said the 28-year-old. “The me’s and women’s teams are here in Qatar representing Tunisia and each team supports each other when they are playing, and it’s important to hear their encouragement during matches.
“We all help with the sport in Tunisia - we have tournaments for kids, and they enjoy it. Sport is always important to be part of and beach handball is a sport where there is not much contact, and you can enjoy it very much.
“OK, there might not be the sea next to these courts here in Doha, but you are always playing on the beach with this sport, next to the sea, having fun in the sun.
“We all hope that the sport grows in Tunisia and we get better and better at every competition going forward.”
Photo: ANOC World Beach Games - Qatar 2019