Qatar produced one of the biggest surprises in the IHF Men’s World Championship history when their handball team led by legendary coach Valero Rivera won the silver medal eight years ago.
Only four members of that same squad will return for Poland/Sweden 2023, with Rivera now entering his 10th year as the team’s coach.
Two of the four returning players have taken part in every edition of the world handball flagship competition, with left back Rafael Capote and line player Youssef Ali playing for the fifth time at the IHF Men’s World Championship at Poland/Sweden 2023.
The Asian champions, who have been dominating the continent since 2014, winning the gold medal at the AHF Asian Men’s Handball Championship five times, are yet to get as close to the gold as in their last three attempts at IHF Men’s World Championship.
Capote has been instrumental throughout, scoring 129 goals. Still going strong at the age of 35, Capote scored five times and helped Qatar stay close to Germany in their debut at the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship in a 27:31 loss.
“It is a nice feeling to be back and try and help Qatar enjoy another good World Championship. It has been an amazing ride in all these years, and, looking closely, it was difficult to put everything together,” Capote told IHF.info.
Qatar was a little out of luck at the draw for the preliminary round at Poland/Sweden 2023, being sent to Group E, where they face Germany, Serbia, and Algeria, a group that should enable them to progress to the main round.
However, two strong European teams await them, and their first test against Germany was tough as always. Still, Qatar delivered a good game, excellent at times, closing the gap to a single goal with 10 minutes to go, with Capote taking up the challenge of leading by example in the second half.
Scoring five goals and delivering one assist, he helped Qatar stay close and he was the team’s second top scorer, with captain Ahmed Madadi scoring six times. The Asian champions failed to score, despite taking the game to Germany and applying some serious pressure.