Ministry’s Shield Handball Championship: Oman club claims title

Oman Club players celebrate after defeating Muscat to win the Ministry’s Shield Handball Championship (Ahmed al Saidi/Muscat Daily)

It was certainly not a game for the faint-hearted. The seventh edition of the Ministry's Shield Handball Championship’s summit clash at the Sultan Qaboos Sport Complex on Tuesday night witnessed one of the most thrilling matches in recent domestic history as Oman Club dethroned five-time and defending champion Muscat 29-28.

The result was achieved after both the teams played out a second extra-time session after both the teams battled out for 70 minutes but failed to break the stalemate in regulation time (60 minutes) and also after the first ten-minute extra-time session.

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Oman Club’s Algerian player Ilyas Bujamil (right) scores a goal against Muscat during the final on Tuesday night

Oman was playing in only its second final against a club, that had won five of the past six editions. The only aberration came in 2014 when Muscat lost to Ahli-Sidab 25-27.

With such a dominating history on its side, Muscat was the favourite but it was taken by surprise by the never-say-die spirit of Oman players, who staged one of the most remarkable fightbacks as they rallied from 14-17 to draw level 21-21 with 11 seconds left for the final whistle to force extra-time.

Muscat had defeated Oman in the 2015 final but on Tuesday, Oman seemed determined to avenge that loss as it rode the brilliance of its Algerian player – Ilyas Bujamil – and national team players - Qais al Hasani, Nasr al Tamtami and goalkeeper Munir al Balushi.

Oman had another Algerian player, Fareed Zakan, in its ranks, but he was suspended for the final while Muscat, too, had two foreign players – Hosham Kataf of Algeria and Mukhtar Mamdooh of Egypt. Muscat also boasted of national team players like Asad al Hasani, Hamood al Dughaishi, Hani al Dughaishi and goalkeeper Hussain al Jabri.

Both the teams are incidentally coached by Algerians with Zaki Ibada in charge of Oman and Murad Sapt at the helm of  Muscat.

In the first extra-time, Muscat appeared to move closer to  title as it raced to 25-22. But it was a night destined for Oman as it displayed grit and gumption to draw level 25-25. In fact, with tension mounting and a packed crowd egging their respective teams, Oman, in fact, led 26-25 with just nine seconds remaining.

But the experience of Muscat players came in handy and they forced the match into second extra-time session. Oman’s Qais rose to the occasion in this crucial period to score twice while Muscat’s Asad reduced the margin but Oman held firm to clinch its maiden title.

The tournament witnessed nine teams taking part with Seeb and Ahli-Sidab eliminated in the semifinals.

H E Nasser al Shibani, Vice-President of the Public Authority for Radio and Television (PART), was the chief guest and gave away the awards in the presence of Said al Shahri, the Oman Handball Association chairman, and other top officials.

Oman took home RO 15,000 while Muscat received RO 10,000. Ahli-Sidab claimed the third place and got RO 5,000.

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