IHF Men's and Women's Beach Handball Championship: Oman coach confident of good show at worlds

A file photo of Oman beach handball team at the 2016 worlds in Budapest

Oman coach Hamood al Hassani expressed confidence in his boys and said that his team had the potential to better its best-ever seventh-place performance at the eighth IHF Men's and Women's Beach Handball Championship-2018, which will be held in Kazan, Russia from July 24-29.

Speaking to Muscat Daily, a day after the draw of the 16 men's team took place in Kazan, on Wednesday, Hassani, said, “We have been drawn in a good group. It features our traditional Asian rival, Qatar, Australia and

Denmark. I believe that we can advance to the next stage from the group.”

hamood

Hamood al Hassani

“We have played against Qatar and both the teams know each other well. The team that makes less mistakes on the day will prevail. Qatar beat us for the Asian title last year. We will be looking to defeat them this time around,” said Hassani.

Oman has lost to Qatar in four successive Asian finals since 2011.

The Oman coach said, “We have the confidence to defeat

Australia, but Denmark will be favoured to win against us. But we will prepare well and fight hard.”

Ahead of the worlds, Oman is expected to play couple of friendly games against a strong Iran side in June.

Oman qualified for the worlds by finishing runner-up to Qatar at the Asian meet last year in Pattaya, Thailand.

Oman, the inaugural Asian champion in 2004, has been improving over the past few years and impressed at the last world championship in Budapest, Hungary in 2016.

Under coach Hassani, it achieved its best-ever result when it finished seventh among the 16 participating nations. In a playoff match for the seventh place, Oman edged past Egypt 6-2 in a shootout after the teams were tied 1-1 (16-20, 17-12).

Hassani has been with the team since 2012 and his close understanding of the players has been instrumental in getting the best out of them.

Oman's journey at the beach handball worlds began in 2004, when it took part in the inaugural edition in El Gouna, Egypt.

It had finished eighth among nine participating nations in 2004. Oman failed to make it to the next two editions - in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2006) and Cadiz, Spain (2008).

It returned to the worlds in the 2010 event in Antalya, Turkey, where it finished ninth.

Oman then hosted the fifth edition of the worlds in 2012 at the Mussanah Sports City, where it finished eighth.

It was the first major assignment for Hassani and since then he has been at the helm of the team.

Hassani then led Oman to the worlds in Recife, Brazil in 2014 where his boys finished 12th.

However, the team made itself noticed to the world its commanding display in Budapest in 2016 when it achieved upset victories over Spain, US, Uruguay and Australia. It won a total of seven out of ten games during that championship.

2018 world championship draw: Group A: Croatia, Iran, Uruguay, Argentina; Group B: Spain, Hungary, Vietnam, New Zealand; Group C: Qatar, Oman, Australia, Denmark; Group D: Brazil, Russia, US, Sweden.

(With inputs from Nasser al Sooli)

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