*** ----> Al Najma through to Asian clubs final | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Al Najma through to Asian clubs final

TDT | Manama                                                               

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Bahrain champions Al Najma punched their tickets yesterday to the gold medal game of the 25th Asian Men’s Club League Championship, currently taking place in Isfahan, Iran. Najma secured their place after defeating Al Rayyan of Qatar 31-29 in their semi-final clash.

The Bahrainis led for most of the contest and showed their poise down the stretch with their opponents threatening. Najma now march on to the final where they will face Qatar’s Al Duhail for the tournament title.

Duhail advanced to the championship match with a 23-19 victory over Kazma SC in last night’s other final four fixture. Najma are making a return to the title contest, scheduled to take place tomorrow with a 4.30 pm start, Bahrain time.

The Bahrainis are hoping to be crowned champions in order to book the sole Asian spot in the 17th IHF Men’s Super Globe, to be held from October 17 to 23 in Saudi Arabia. Rayyan and Kazma battle for the bronze medals the same day, in the clash for a third place set for 2.30pm, Bahrain time.

Following Najma’s win yesterday, Mohammed Ahmed was named the Match Most Valuable Player. He was presented his award by Bahrain Handball Association president Ali Issa. The Kingdom’s representatives held a narrow 19-16 lead at the break and Rayyan stayed within striking distance throughout the second half.

Najma took their biggest lead of five goals, 29-24, with around 10 minutes left following a Yoel Cuni Morales conversion. But Rayyan gradually roared back and got to within a goal on a Rami Fekih throw with five minutes remaining.

Najma’s Mohammed Habib Naser replied to put Najma back up by two, but the Qataris cut the deficit to one again on a Wael Mzoughi penalty. Ahmed then scored from the right wing with under two minutes to peg the final score and seal the hard-earned win for Najma.

Goalkeeper Mohammed Abdulhussain made a key stop on a Fekih attempt and Najma were able to dribble out the clock. Three players finished with six goals for Najma to spearhead their team, including Ahmed, Hussain Al Sayyad and Mahdi Habib.

Qassim Qambar chipped in with four goals while Morales had three. The championship has been organised and run by the Asian Handball Federation (AHF). Najma are hoping to replicate or improve on their finish in last year’s Asian clubs competition held in Hyderabad, India, where they won the silver medals after losing to Kuwait SC in the final.