DOHA: European clubs HSV Hamburg and Barcelona Intersport will be aiming to win their first IHF Super Globe title, after both sides won their matches in the semi-finals yesterday.
European champions Hamburg defeated Tunisia’s Etoile Sportive du Sahel 36-22, while Barcelona Intersport ended the hopes of Qatar’s Eljaish, winning 40-31 in a closely-fought semi-final.
The final will be a repeat of the EHF Champions League final that was won by the German side in June this year.
Eljaish will face Etoile Sportive du Sahel in the third-place play-off today.
Barcelona got off to a flying start, overrunning the Qatari team by counter attack goals and back court hammers.
The Spanish club forged ahead to 13-6 in the middle of the first half. Boosted by their newcomer Nikola Karabatic, Eljaish were down by six goals at the break.
But everything changed at the start of the second half. Eljaish had adapted to the Barcelona style of attack, improved in defence, caused turnovers and then managed to score easy goals.
After only five minutes into the second half they had reduced the gap to only 18-21 and Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual called for a time-out to avoid a further downswing.
However, Eljaish stood strong, while Barcelona had lost their rhythm in attack completely.
When Mohamed Shebib stroke for 21-22, the club fans went crazy as Eljaish goalkeeper Mohsain Yafai kept his team in the game.
The Qatari side, pushed by Slim Hedoui and Mosbah Sanai - did not lose power and skills until the final stages, kept their defence shut and were on eye level.
With eight minutes to go, the score was still close at 31-29 for Barca. Scoring five straight goals in only four minutes Barcelona grew momentum scoring decisive goals that put the match to bed.
Unlike their previous matches, Hamburg started much more focused, and was boosted by the late arrival of their last season’s top scorer Hans Lindberg, who arrived in Doha on Wednesday.
Lindberg quickly got off the mark and scored four goals before the break.
Hamburg easily took the lead and soon had a four-goal advantage with the score 10-6.
The scoreline prompted Etoile Sportive du Sahel coach Sami Saidi to call a time-out.
However, Saidli’s instructions to his played proved to have little effect as his team hardly managed to get through the defence, except Ali Zeinelabedin, who was the best Sahel scorer with seven goals on his tally.
The Hamburg defence was on top and kept the opposition at bay thanks to goalkeeper Marcus Cleverley, who saved 13 shots in the first half, to help the Germans lead 16-9 after 30 minutes.
Sahel hoped to turn the match around at 13-18, but in only a few minutes, Hamburg even managed to increase the distance at 24-14, thanks to a Lindberg on the right wing.
Hamburg grew in confidence and was still on top, who were keen to enter the final in top form. With the match beginning to get of Sahel’s reach, the Tunisians had resigned to defeat.
Elsewhere, in other matches, Al Rayyan beat Al Sadd 32-19, to set up a 5th/6th placement match against Brazil’s Taubate.
Sydney University, who were beaten by Taubate 28-14, will face Al Sadd in the 7th/8th placement match.