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The Asian Games will be officially declared open on Saturday. Half of India’s 804-strong contingent is yet to check in at the Athletes’ Village. But for the men’s handball team, the campaign is all but over. The team, which was given clearance under dubious circumstances by the Indian Olympic Association, lost its second consecutive match of the preliminary round, which has virtually ended their hopes of qualifying for the main draw. India lost to Bahrain 25-32 at the Popki Stadium in Jakarta, a result that condemns them to the bottom position in Group D. India had lost their opening match to Chinese Taipei 28-38. To stay in medal contention, they will now have to beat Iraq by a huge margin to overcome their goal difference of —17 and also hope Chinese Taipei go down to Bahrain by an even bigger scoreline. In women’s competition also, India lost the first match to Kazakhstan, then lost to Korea in their second match 18-45. For a team that approached the court and entered the draw without informing the Indian Olympic Association, the impending early exit would be disappointing. The IOA had refused to clear the team, saying they did not meet the government’s selection criteria. As per the sports ministry’s guidelines, teams who were ranked among the top 8 in Asia were eligible to compete in the Asiad. The handball team had finished 12th in the Asian Championship earlier this year, which ruled them out for the Games. But HFI secretary Anandeshwar Pandey used his clout in the Asian Handball Federation to get the team in the draw, with the IOA claiming this was done without their knowledge.