Beach Handball World Championship: Oman meets Croatia in opening clash
Oman beach handball team
Oman begins its campaign in the 2016 Beach Handball World Championships with a tough opener against European giant Croatia in the Hungarian capital city of Budapest on Tuesday. The tournament will conclude on July 17.
The opening day's action will also pit coach Hamood al Hassani's team against Spain.
Speaking ahead of the opener, Hassani said, “We are ready for the tournament. We had a fruitful camp and we also played a number of friendly games. The boys are in good shape and I expect them to deliver a good performance.”
The Oman boys qualified for the worlds after finishing runner-up at the Asian Beach Handball Championship, which was hosted in Muscat in May last year. Title contender Qatar and Bahrain are the other nations from Asia to take part in the Hungary event.
A total of 12 teams each will take part in the seventh edition of the men and women's beach handball tournament.
Oman has been clubbed in Group B along with 2014 silver medallist and reigning European champion Croatia, 2015 European Championship runner-up Spain, hosts Hungary, Uruguay and Australia. In Group A, defending world champion Brazil will face Qatar, Ukraine, Egypt, the US and Bahrain.
Oman has been a regular participant at the worlds since the inaugural edition took place in El Gouna, Egypt in 2004. Oman had finished eighth among nine participating nations back then. It missed the next two editions - in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2006) and Cadiz, Spain (2008).
However, Oman appeared in the 2010 event in Antalya, Turkey, where it finished ninth.
Oman hosted the fifth edition of the worlds in 2012 at the Mussanah Sports City, where it finished eighth, while at the last tournament in 2014 in Recife, Brazil, Oman came 12th.
In Hungary, the top three teams from each group will advance to the main round with the best four from the main round forming the semifinal line-up.
Following the opening day's action, Oman will play against Uruguay and Australia on July 13 and then meet Hungary on July 14.
As part of the build-up, the team played a four-nation tournament last week, featuring Qatar, Hungary and Croatia.
Oman will be without two of its key players, Said al Hassani and Ahmed al Hinai, who are sidelined with injuries. Both had played an important role in the team's qualification to the worlds.
The national team is backed by Zubair Corporation, and Oman Handball Association (OHA) chairman Sheikh Sultan al Hosni thanked the corporate giant for its support.
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