Asian Beach Handball: Oman goes down fighting to Thailand at Asian meet

Oman's winning run at the seventh Asian Men's and Women's Beach Handball Championship was halted on Wednesday as it went down narrowly to Thailand 1-2 (21-14, 14-17, 6-7) at the Tianmu Resort Village in Zhang Jiachan Town of Weihai City in China's Shandong Province.

It was the first loss for Hamood al Hassani's men, who had earlier recorded three wins in a row to go top of Pool B.Oman had defeated Saudi Arabia, Japan and Pakistan but the streak was halted by the Thais in a thrilling encounter.Following the win, Thailand joins Oman with six points with Iran leading the table with eight points.Oman now has to beat Iran on Thursday to keep its hope for a semifinal berth.

A win for Thailand and Oman will see the goal-difference come into equation for deciding the semifinalists from Pool B as three teams, including Iran, will have garnered eight points each.Inaugural edition winner in 2004, Oman, got off to a solid start against the Thailand as it sealed the first game 21-14.

However, the Thais rallied back to force a shootout with a 17-14 victory in the next game.In the shootout, Thailand edged Oman, a four-time Asian silver medallist, 7-6. The 12-team event also serves as the qualifier for the IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championship in Italy 2020. 

The top-two teams in China will advance to the worlds in Italy next year. Oman has been a regular at the beach handball worlds, having participated for the first time in 2004. Since 2010, it has qualified for the world championships, with its best finish achieved in 2016 – a seventh place in Budapest, Hungary.

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