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Bahrain’s men’s handball team, a deserved presence at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Portrait of the Bahraini men's handball team which represented the Kingdom for the first time in the most important sports event in the world: the 2021 Olympic Games, after they won a historical and unexpected victory in the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament against South Korea (34-29). They played against France in the quarterfinals in Tokyo.

Portrait of the Bahraini men’s handball team which represented the Kingdom for the first time in the most important sports event in the world: the 2021 Olympic Games, after they won a historical and unexpected victory in the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament against South Korea (34-29). They played against France in the quarterfinals in Tokyo.

Bahrain is a small archipelago of about thirty islands, located in the Persian Gulf, to the West of Qatar and East of Saudi Arabia, to which it is linked by a causeway (a series of bridges and dykes) called the King Fahd Causeway.

Hussain Al Sayyad, Mohammed Mirza, Mohammed Abdulhussain, Ali Mirza, Mohammed Abdulredha, Hassan Al Samaheeji, Mohammed Habib Madan, Ahmed Al Maqabi, Al Eid, Bilal Basham, Mahdi Saad, Kumail Mahfoodh, Ahmed Jalal, Mohammed Habib Nasser, Hassan Mirza and Hussan Mahfoodh are part of the handball team that proudly represented the still unknown country in the Japanese capital.

Led by Icelandic coach Aron Kristjansson, the Bahraini team beat Qatar in the semifinals before defeating South Korea in the 2019 Olympic qualifiers held in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

According to the motivated coach : “This is something huge. For us, going to the quarterfinals is like winning the title for France … “. It is a very special participation for Kristjansson, who couldn’t attend the 2004 Athens Olympics with his Icelandic team because of an injury, and is going this year as a coach.

The almost unknown team has several interesting characteristics : unlike other clubs that rely on the purchase of players of other nationalities, all members are from Bahrain. Also, one of their game strategies is based on a 3-3 defense (i.e. 3 players are forward on the field in defense): this is a rare style of play on the international scene, which does not fail to take the opposing teams by surprise; moreover, their possession of the ball is among the longest of the tournaments, which has particularly complicated the task for the Portuguese team, which they faced in July 2021.

Despite losing to France (42-28) in the quarter-finals, the Bahraini team can be proud as they brought visibility to the country and its sports talents as the athletics, swimming, shooting and boxing teams will be represented in Tokyo.