BAHRAIN’S domestic league-and-cup champions Al Najma will face off against Qatar’s Al Duhail today in what promises to be a thrilling final of the 25th Asian Men’s Club League Handball Championship in Isfahan, Iran.
Both teams have entered the final on the back of impressive winning streaks – Al Najma have won five games on the trot after losing their opening game to Al Kuwait while Al Duhail have won four consecutive matches after losing their second Group B game, 28-26, to the Bahraini club.
Al Najma, who finished second in the six-team Group B table, behind leaders Al Duhail who had the same number of points but ended the group stage on top because of goal difference, beat another Qatari club, Al Rayyan, 31-29 in the first semi-final last Thursday to secure their place in today’s final.
And Al Duhail defeated Kuwait’s Kazma SC, 23-19, in the second semi-final, also on Thursday, to set up a mouth-watering final.
Al Najma have looked unstoppable after their opening game defeat to defending champions Al Kuwait – who, ironically, were edged out of the race for the semi-finals on goal difference after finishing on the same number of points as Al Duhail and the Bahraini club.
In the four matches that followed, Al Najma easily brushed aside Al Duhail, China’s Junior Club, Iran’s Shahid Shameli KC and Uzbekistan’s RKOR Tashkent.
Al Duhail started the tournament by pipping RKOR Tashkent before succumbing to Al Najma in their second game. But they bounced back to defeat Al Kuwait, Junior Club and Shahid Shameli in their next three matches to skip into the semi-finals.
This is the fourth time Al Najma have reached the final of the championship, and the second time in a row – making them the first team to ever play two finals in consecutive years. Last year, they lost to Al Kuwait, 28-23, in the final in Hyderabad, India, after a food poisoning outbreak in their camp on the eve of the match caused most of their players to fall ill.
The final will start at 4.30pm Bahrain time.