DOHA: France became the first team in handball history to win five world championships when they beat surprise finalists Qatar 25-22 on Sunday.
The win means France’s are now world, European and Olympic champions, emphasizing their current dominance of the sport.
It was the country’s first world title since 2011.
The victory should have been far more comfortable than it was, but a dogged Qatar side ensured that France were pushed all the way to the finish line, ensuring a
The game ultimately proved one match too many for the hosts, who, for the first time in the tournament, found themselves outclassed for large parts of the game, particularly in the first 30 minutes.
However, there was honour in defeat for the Qataris as lesser teams would have been swept away by France’s performance.
Instead, a resolute Qatar side even at one stage in the final 30 minutes threatened to overturn a six goal deficit.
But the French were just able to hang on, leaving Qatar with the consolation that their performance in the final and throughout the tournament has confirmed the tiny
Gulf state’s status as one of the sport’s new powers.
Ironically, given the fuss about Qatar’s foreign legion playing for the national side, it was France’s Serbian born Nikola Karabatic who dominated the game, especially
in the first half.
His power allowed France to exert control early on and give them a platform for victory.
Karabatic scored three times in the first 17 minutes as the pre-tournament favorites established a four-goal lead.
He then set up two more, forced a fine save from Danijel Saric and drew a tackle which saw Qatar defender Hassan Mabrouk sin binned for the second time in the opening exchanges.
Karabatic was at the heart of everything.
In the 23rd minute, he gave the French a six goal lead as Qatar found it impossible to stop him controlling the match.
Even his expulsion for two minutes for a foul on had little impact because as soon as he returned to the field of play, he scored his fifth.
But resistance came in the form of Rafael Capote who scored four times from four shots in the first half to somehow leave Qatar trailing by just three goals, 14-11, at the break, much to the consternation of French coach Claude Onesta.
The second half proved much tighter.
Powered by Capote, tournament top scorer Zarko Markovic and Borja Vidal, Qatar pulled to within one goal on several occasions and but for France’s goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer would have been level.
The home side scented a surprise victory but goals from France’s Valentin Porte kept Qatar just about out of reach.
Still Qatar would not give up and Capote scored a sixth with just four minutes left to close the gap to two, 24-22.
A minute later Qatar had the chance through Abdulla Al-Karbi to pull level but he struck the woodwork.
It was to be the host nation’s last chance.
France’s Daniel Narcisse capped off a fine tournament with a goal seconds later to restore their three goal advantage.
It was a lead they would not relinquish, although there was time for more heroics from Omeyer.
Earlier Poland beat 29-28 Spain in overtime to claim third place.