In his exclusive remarks to Muscat Daily recently, Shahri said, “We are going to sign a MoU with the Asian Handball Federation that will make Muscat the training hub for Asian coaches and referees under the continental federation.
“It is a major initiative and will put Muscat on the map of Asian handball. We hope it will spur growth of the game and also help develop our coaches and referees.”
The deal between the OHA and the AHF will be inked on October 12 at the association headquarters in the presence of senior Oman Olympic Committee (OOC), OHA officials and the visiting AHF delegation comprising Bader al Theyab (International Handball Federation vice-president and AHF treasurer), Ahmed Abu Al Lail, (AHF executive director), and Jasem al Theyab, (AHF technical director).
First Super Cup on October 12
The AHF delegation will also attend the inaugural edition of the OHA Super Cup, an one-off event that will launch the domestic season, to be played at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC) on October 12.
Defending OHA first division league winner Muscat Club will take on league runner-up Oman in the Super Cup.
“Super Cup will be an annual feature between the first division league winner and the OHA Ministry's Shield champion,” said Moosa al Balushi, the OHA secretary. “As Muscat has won both the league and the shield, the runner-up in the league, Oman, has been picked,” he said.
H E Saud al Balushi, the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Education for Planning and Human Resources Development, will be the chief guest.
Ministry’s Shield from October 13
While the Super Cup will signal the start of the 2017-18 domestic season, the Ministry's Shield will be the first full-fledged competition involving 14 clubs.
The first division league will be held after the national team's participation in the 18th Asian Men's Handball Championship in South Korea from January
18-28. The top-flight league is slated to begin on February 2 with eight clubs in fray.
‘High hopes from national team’
Shahri said the national team will soon be under the charge of experienced Egyptian coach Mohammed Abd Elmoety, a former Kuwait coach.
Elmoety's main task will be to prepare the national team for the Asian championship in Seoul, South Korea, which will also serve as the qualifier for the world championship.
Oman has been placed in Group B that comprises Australia, Bahrain and Uzbekistan.
Iran, Iraq and Japan are in Group A while Bangladesh, India, South Korea and UAE form Group C and China, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are in Group D.
The top four teams will advance to the 2019 worlds, jointly organised by Denmark and Germany, and Shahri said that “we have high hopes of finishing among the top four at the Asian championship.”
Oman has never qualified for the indoor worlds though it has regularly participated in the beach handball worlds.
The national beach handball team, under coach Hamood al Hassani, will be in action at next year's world championship in Kazan, Russia.
At last year’s beach handball worlds, which was held in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, Oman finished at its best-ever ranking - seventh.
During its campaign at the worlds, the Hassani-coached side upset strong teams like Spain, Uruguay, US and Egypt.
Oman has previously participated in five world championships, starting in 2004, and has already qualified for its sixth and fifth successive appearance at the worlds as Asian runner-up in May, 2017.
Oman lost to Qatar in the final of the Asian Beach Handball Championship in Pattaya, Thailand but sealed its berth for the worlds as the best four teams made it to Kazan. Oman also won the silver medal at the 2016 Asian Beach Games in Danang, Vietnam.