Handballers fall short

Handballers fall short

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The Hong Kong team's spirits are high despite their defeat by Syria.
The Hong Kong team's spirits are high despite their defeat by Syria.
Photo: Kevin Kung/SCMP
The Hong Kong men's handball team will play for pride in their final match at the Asian Youth Games today. The "852" boys lost twice and drew one of their three group matches and failed to reach the quarter finals.

South Korea beat Hong Kong 46-11 in Tuesday's first match. Then Hong Kong lost 26-39 to Syria on Wednesday, before they drew 26-26 with Kazakhstan the following day.

South Korea and Syria claimed the top two places in the group to progress to the last-eight knockout stage.

Kazakhstan took third place, level on points with Hong Kong but one place above them because of their better goal difference.

This means Kazakhstan will play in the 9th-to-12th-place match, while Hong Kong will battle in the 13th-to-16th-place showdown.

Young Post watched Hong Kong's defeat at the hands of Syria. The Syrians were much taller than the Hong Kong players and the difference gave them a great advantage in both attack and defence. At the same time, they assigned one player, firstly Mohamad Kadoor and then Mohammed Al Apoush, to block Hong Kong team captain and right back Sahib Singh Sandhu throughout the match. Sahib, a top goal scorer, was frozen out by the Syrians. As a result, Hong Kong had a hard time and they trailed 11-20 after the first half.

However, left winger Chris Kong Chi-ho and left back Chan Tsz-long worked well together to take over the scoring role in the second half. Helped by their smooth passes and slick shots, the team scored four goals in a row after the break to close the gap to 15-20. That put a lot of pressure on Syria who called a time-out to gather their thoughts.

But Syria proved to be the better side on the day, and went on to win convincingly 39-26. Chris said they expected to win the game, but the height difference was a crucial factor. "We have similar fitness levels and we did our best," he said.

He also expressed his delight at meeting the South Korean team in Nanjing . "Even though we were totally outplayed, I was very happy to have a match with them. They are my idols; I have seen how well they can perform on court."

Sahib said all he could do was pull the player who guarded him away from his teammates.

"Syria watched our match against South Korea and noticed that I was a key scorer. As a result, they sent a player to stop me from scoring," he said.

Team manager Ho Shuk-ting was satisfied with the boys' performance.

"In this match, our main strategy was to mount a fast attack, as the tall Syrians could simply block our shots if we stood still in one place. Our players gave of their best," he said.

Team coach Lee Ka-leung criticised the referees in the draw with Kazakhstan.

"We were leading by three points, 14-11, after the first half. But the referees made some misjudgments which went against us, and we drew in the end," he said. "We would have come third in the group if we won that game, and we would have met China in the place matches."

The Hong Kong boys will face Mongolia at 11.45am today. Tsz-long says the team is confident. "We are better than them and we will get our first victory," he says.

Click to see our complete coverage and medals count for the 2013 Asian Youth Games.

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