Bahrain miss handball bronze.
Kuwait, meanwhile, clinched the title with a 31-26 win over Qatar.
The Bahrainis were overmatched by the quicker and more organised Iranian side, who built leads as high as seven goals in the second half.
The match began as a see-saw affair, with the nationals matching their highly favoured rivals point for point to forge a 12-all deadlock late in the opening period.
But Iran managed to string together four straight goals for a 16-12 advantage at the break, and they never looked back. The Bahrainis, coached by Algerian Rashid Sheraih, tried valiantly to fight back, but Iran did well to stave off any and all late rallies.
They virtually sealed the win with roughly five minutes to play in the match when they made a key steal off a poor Bahraini attack, scoring on the fast break for a 28-22 lead.
The Bahrainis had spirited performances from top players Awad Rajab and Ali Eid, but even their best efforts came up short. Also putting in a strong showing in the loss were Abdulla Radhi, Ahmed Ali, Jassim Abdulla, Mohammed Abdulla, Mohammed Madan, Hussain Ali, Ahmed Jaffer, Hassan Jaffer and Tawfeeq Al Wedaie.
The result not only lost Bahrain its bronze medal, but also lost the team an automatic berth in next year's world youth championships, to be held in Tunisia. However, according to Bahrain Handball Association official Isa Al Suwaidi, the nationals may still have a chance to qualify for the world tournament.
Al Suwaidi said that the International Handball Federation (IHF) has yet to decide whether next year's world championship will feature 20 or 24 teams. Should it be 20, the top three that concluded yesterday's competition, namely Kuwait, Qatar and Iran, go through. If it is 24, however, an additional Asian team can gain a berth, meaning that Bahrain have a slight chance of still making it through.
It is currently unknown when the IHF will announce the number of participants for the Tunisia event.
Copyright A[umlaut] 2008 Gulf Daily News
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