Al Arabi win maiden Asian Club championship title
The reigning Emir’s Cup champions beat Saudi Arabia’s Al Wehda to become the sixth Qatari club to win the coveted crown.
The Qatar national team might have failed to make it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but the country’s club sides have continued to make an impression on the continental stage.
At Samcheok, South Korea, on Sunday, reigning Emir’s Cup champions Al Arabi gave further proof of that when they became the Asian Club champions for the first time.
In a tightly contested final, they overcame Saudi Arabia’s Al Wehda 21-19 to emerge winners and qualify for the 2020 IHF Super Globe Tournament as continental winners.
In the bronze medal match, Qatar League champions Al Wakrah suffered further heartbreak, losing to UAE’s Al Sharjah 20-21.
Arabi, despite trailing 10-11 at halftime, never let up on their intensity. They went ahead 12-11 in the third minute of the second half and did not relinquish the lead thereafter. They then increased the lead to four goals (18-14) before Wehda bridged the gap but Arabi held on to post a memorable win.
Arabi goalkeeper Danijel Saric, centre back Wajdi Sinen and right back Mustafa Alsaltialkrad played exceptional games to put their team ahead. While Saric punched away attempt after attempt, Sinen and Alsaltialkrad ensured the scoreboard kept ticking.
Qatari clubs have been highly successful at the Asian level, with six of the last eight Asian titles travelling to Doha. While Al Rayyan topped in 2012, El Jaish (’13 and ’14), Lekhwiya (’15) and Al Duhail (’18) were the other winners.
Al Sadd are the most successful Qatari side in the tournament, having clinched the coveted title five times – in 2000, ’01, ’02, ’03 and ’05.