China edged out Colombia 28-25 in the tournament opener ©IHF

Top seeds China and Bulgaria made winning starts to their International Handball Federation (IHF) Emerging Nations Championship campaigns.

China edged out Colombia 28-25 in the opener at Tbilisi Sports Palace in Georgia.

The Chinese raced into a 9-4 advantage after 20 minutes but were knocked by the loss of goalkeeper Quan Wang to injury, with Colombia pulling it back to 10-10 by halftime.

However, while Colombia were reliant on Sebastian Restrepo to score the majority of their goals, China were able to spread the load more easily and their multi-pronged attack proved more effective.

Bulgaria then dominated Malta 38-13, Svetlin Dimitrov scoring 10 goals.

The Bulgarians were 5-0 up by the sixth minute and continued to control the match from there.

Svetlin Dimitrov scored 10 goals in Bulgaria's win over Malta ©IHF
Svetlin Dimitrov scored 10 goals in Bulgaria's win over Malta ©IHF

Whenever Malta did break through, they found Ivaylo Kostov in inspired form, the keeper saving two penalties.

A red card for Malta's Jeremy Fenech late in the first half did not help matters and they went on to suffer a confidence-crushing defeat.

Bulgaria and China are the top-ranked sides in their respective groups and are favourites to earn their first Emerging Nations titles in the absence of the Faroe Islands, who won each of the past two titles.

Elsewhere in the opening group matches, hosts Georgia made a strong start to their campaign with a 27-14 win over debutants Nigeria.

Georgia took a 3-0 lead after five minutes and their lead never dropped below three goals, as Nigeria were wasteful with their chances.

Azerbaijan defeated India 45-29, Cuba beat Great Britain 35-27 and wild card qualifiers United States got the better of Ireland by a 37-32 scoreline.

The group stages continue on Sunday.