BAHRAIN came up agonisingly short from completing a dramatic comeback last night in a 24-25 loss to Argentina in the International Handball Federation (IHF) Men’s Youth World Championship 2019, currently being held in North Macedonia.
The Bahrainis were down 19-24 with just over five minutes remaining in the game, but they then made a late surge that included five straight goals to tie the proceedings at 24-apiece with no time remaining. But as the final buzzer sounded, a foul was called and Argentina were awarded what turned out to be the game-winning shot against a Bahrain wall.
Agustin Unzner converted the decisive goal for the Argentinians. It not only sealed their win, but it also put them through to the Round of 16 with their second triumph in four matches in Group ‘C’ of the preliminary round.
The Bahrainis, meanwhile, were sent crashing out of contention for a berth in the ensuing stage, having suffered their third straight defeat after beginning the tournament with a victory.
Bahrain will now be playing in the classification group for 17th to 20th. Should they finish 17th, they would win the President’s Cup.
Prior to that, however, they will play one more game in the ongoing preliminaries. That will be today against group leaders Denmark, who have won all four of their matches thus far.
In other divisional clashes yesterday, Japan beat Nigeria 35-30 while Denmark beat hosts North Macedonia 29-26. The Danes, Japanese, North Macedonians have already secured their berths in the Round of 16 alongside Argentina.
The Bahrainis opened last night’s game strong and managed a small lead early on before heading into the half-time interval tied at 10-apiece.
Starting the second half, Argentina raised their play and took control of the contest, building a lead of 17-12 midway through and holding on to that margin heading into the final five minutes.
That set the stage for Bahrain’s sudden resurgence. Mohamed Mohamed scored the first of their five successive goals. Four other players then converted one apiece, including Mujtaba Alzaimoor, Qasim Qambar, Moayed Shuaib and Adel Afrooz, whose tying goal came from the centre six-metre line.
But Bahrain’s joy quickly turned into heartbreak, as Argentina were fouled as they made one last-gasp attacking attempt. Unzner stepped up to take the shot, which he sent through a tiny gap between the outstretched arms of the Bahraini wall.
Mohamed top scored for Bahrain with seven goals. Qambar added six and both Afrooz and Ali Ali had three. Alzaimoor and Mahdi Mahdi contributed two apiece, and Shuaib rounded out the team’s scorers with one goal.
Joaquin Barcelo Garcia paced Argentina with five goals while Unzner had four in their win.