Al Gharafa emerge Arab champions
Qatari club remains unbeaten in tournament, stages brilliant comeback in final to clinch title.
Al Gharafa emerged as the best club side in the Arab world after winning the 35th Arab League Championships with a gritty performance in Amman, Jordan.
Gharafa, who remained unbeaten in the tournament, defeated Algeria’s GS Petroliers 36-32 in the final. They trailed 18-19 at half-time, but held on for the win at the Princess Sumaya Hall in Amman, Jordan.
A day before the tournament began, Gharafa had narrowly lost to Tunisia’s Esperance Sportive de Tunis 24-26 in a one-off play-off for the Arab Super Cup.
In the Arab Championship, Gharafa topped Group A with wins against Kuwait’s Burgan SC (27-22), Petroliers (33-31) and Saudi Arabia’s Al Wehda (31-29).
In the quarterfinal, they overcame Qatar SC 31-20. The semifinal was a close contest where Gharafa edged out Wehda 25-24.
Gharafa is only the second Qatari club team to win the prestigious title, after Al Rayyan’s triumph in Sharjah in 2000.
Qatar international Zarko Markovic, who played a key role in the country’s run to the silver medal at the 2015 IHF Men’s World Championships in Doha, did the star turn for his club. He scored 30 goals to emerge as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Qatar SC had a poor outing in Jordan. They ended at the bottom of Group B after losing all three games against Al Kuwait SC (24-26), Esperance (27-31) and Morocco’s Raja Agadir (24-26).
Even the play-off for the seventh place ended in defeat, the Qatar club going down 21-36 to Esperance.