JAKARTA: Qatar handball star Bertrand Roine declared his heavily naturalised team “kings of Asia” as they beat Bahrain in extra time to retain Asian Games gold Friday.
With the final tied at 25-25 after normal time, the defending champions triumphed with a dominant late display — scoring seven times in 10 added minutes to claim the title 32-27.
“It was a big game, and Bahrain is a strong team,” Roine said after the match, speaking in French.
“I am sad for them, but we are now the kings of Asia in handball after we dominated the last five years.”
At least half of Qatar’s handball side is composed of foreign-born players, drawing controversy in recent years.
As well as Roine — who won a world championship medal with France in 2011 — Frankis Marzo, who chipped in with six goals, hails from Cuba.
Goalkeepers Danijel Saric and Goran Stojanovic are from Bosnia and Montenegro respectively.
The team also contains players originally from Tunisia and Syria.
Handball allows for players to play for more than one country over the course of their careers.
Both teams refused to answer questions on the subject of naturalisation after the match.
Bahrain has attracted controversy of its own in Jakarta, where African-born runners picked up all 12 of its athletics gold medals.
However, its handball team is composed of Bahrain-born players.
Bahrain chef de mission Badr Nasser blamed the loss on his side’s lapses in extra time.
“Our players were men on the pitch and played one of the best games, but a minor mistake in the last minutes made us lose everything,” he told AFP.
Controversy over Qatar’s cosmopolitan handball team erupted at the sport’s world championships hosted in its capital Doha in 2015, when Austrian goalkeeper Thomas Bauer told AFP it felt like “playing against a world selection team”.
Around 60 noisy fans from Spanish handball supporter groups were flown in on all-expenses paid trips — on the condition they cheered for Qatar. —AFP