Late heartache for Saudi Arabia in ‘crucial’ Asian Games handball draw with Japan

The Saudi Arabian handball team conceded twice in the final 96 seconds against Japan on Monday night to tie. (Courtesy of Asian Games)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Late heartache for Saudi Arabia in ‘crucial’ Asian Games handball draw with Japan

  • Saudi Arabia are drawn with Japan, Iraq and reigning champions Qatar
  • With only the top two progressing to the semifinals, the result of the opening match with Japan was vital

JAKARTA: The Saudi Arabian handball team conceded twice in the final 96 seconds against Japan on Monday night to tie a match that coach Muhanna Al-Qamous had billed as crucial to their hopes of progressing to the Asian Games semifinals. Downcast, he said afterwards it felt more like a defeat.
Saudi Arabia, having coasted through the preliminary group stage, were drawn with Japan, Iraq and reigning champions Qatar in the secondary group stage.
With only the top two progressing to the semifinals, the result of the opening match with Japan was vital ahead of Wednesday’s clash with neighbors Qatar.
After an hour of play inside the GOR Popki Cibubur sports complex, it should have ended with Saudi smiles. Instead, with the final whistle blown at 26-26, there were shaking heads and disappointment.
“For us, we lost,” Al-Qamous told Arab News. “We led for the majority of the game, but we made some mistakes and paid the price. This is handball, these things happen and we still have a valuable point, but we are disappointed. We should have won. Our route to the semifinals now requires more work.”
Saudi trailed narrowly until the 18th minute, when left-wing Abdullah Alabbas scored from the 7-meter penalty line to draw his side level at 9-9. From that moment on, it only looked like there would be one winner, with Alabbas giving his side a three-point lead even after Hassan Al-Janabi had been dismissed. They finished the opening period with a 15-11 advantage.
“As I said before, this was the most important match for both sides,” said Al-Qamous. “We played very, very well during the match and were fighting all the time. We deserved to win, but some players got ahead of themselves, took risks in the hope of killing the game off, and it didn’t work. What can we do?”
The second period was equally as balanced, with both sides taking points in succession and the gap never growing greater than five.
Yet with just 15 minutes left and Saudi leading 21-16, Japan rallied, pulling it back quickly with three points in the space of three minutes. Center-back Yuto Agarie, pivotal in his side getting within two of a tie at 21-19, was instrumental again as his side eventually stole a 24-23 lead with just six minutes remaining.
Saudi soon regained their composure and took what appeared to be an unassailable 26-24 lead with a little under two minutes left on the clock. However 11 seconds later, and following a Japanese time-out, Agarie pulled one back before Testsuya Kadoyama converted a fast break opportunity to tie the game with 38 seconds left to play.
“The way we fought and led will stand us in good stead going forward,’ said Al-Qamous, who watched Qatar beat Iraq earlier in the day, although not by as comfortable a margin as many had predicted. They triumphed 26-20 to take control of the group.
“A place in the semifinals is still in our hands,” added Al-Qamous, who will lead Saudi at the World Championships next January in Germany and Denmark. “Iraq only lost to Qatar by six, so we know they are a good team. Maybe they will draw with Japan; that would definitely be the best result for us. But in this life, you must fight your own battles, not rely on others. That is what we will do, starting against Qatar.”


RESULTS
Group 1
Qatar 26-20 Iraq
Saudi Arabia 26-26 Japan

Group 2
Bahrain 29-23 Iran
Hong Kong 15-40 South Korea


England’s Oliver Fisher cards first 59 in European Tour history

Updated 21 September 2018
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England’s Oliver Fisher cards first 59 in European Tour history

  • The 30-year-old tapped in for par on the final hole to complete an astonishing 12-under-par round featuring 10 birdies and an eagle
  • Fisher, who was regarded as a possible future star as a teenage amateur, is ranked down at 287 in the world and had missed 11 cuts in his 22 previous events

VILAMOURA: Unheralded Englishman Oliver Fisher fired the first round of 59 in the European Tour’s 46-year history on a remarkable second day of the Portugal Masters on Friday.
The 30-year-old tapped in for par on the final hole to complete an astonishing 12-under-par round featuring 10 birdies and an eagle, after his long birdie putt for a 58 grazed the edge of the hole.
“It feels great, I started great and I kept it going,” Fisher said. “Just pleased I two-putted from 40 feet on the final green.”
Fisher, who was regarded as a possible future star as a teenage amateur, is ranked down at 287 in the world and had missed 11 cuts in his 22 previous events this season.
He also had to battle to save his tour card at the same tournament two years ago, but scaled heights that thousands of players had failed to reach before with his efforts on Friday.
“Two years ago I was on the same green just trying to keep my card, so I was keeping that in the back of my mind and trying to remember that it could be worse,” he added.
Fisher’s round gave him the clubhouse lead on 12-under for the tournament, with the majority of players still on the course.
Two other men had come close to the magical number at the Portugal Masters, with Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts both missing putts to break 60 in 2013 and 2014 respectively.