19 December, 2022
25 May, 2023
Arakji vows to Al Riyadi faithful: 'We will be winning the West Asia Super League'
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Arakji vows to Al Riyadi faithful: 'We will be winning the West Asia Super League'

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Wael Arakji promised to lead Al Riyadi to the Final of every tournament they would play in when he resigned with the ball club last year to come back to the very same place where it all began for him.

The star guard disclosed that he made that vow to none other than team president Hajj Mazen Tabarra when he returned to the Lebanese powerhouse, where he started his pro career back in 2012 and won his first four domestic league titles.

He's been keeping his word.

Last Wednesday, Arakji helped guide Al Riyadi to the WASL-West Asia Final by showing Beirut First Club the door, 102-92, in Game 2 of their best-of-3 Semis affair to emerge triumphant in a battle of inter-city rivals.

The lefty floor general delivered 13 points and 9 assists in the closeout, proving to be a thorn in the side of the same squad he led to the top of the Lebanese League Championship last season at the expense of his current team.

"When I re-signed with Riyadi, I promised Hajj Mazen that we will get to the Final of every championship we play, and this is what we've been doing," he said moments after the game at the Saeb Salam Stadium in Manara.

Since his homecoming of sorts, Arakji has already given Al Riyadi one golden hardware when they conquered an annual club competition in Dubai earlier this year, where they beat Dynamo Lebanon narrowly in the finale.

He'd love to bring the WASL championship home, too.

"Thankfully, we got to the Dubai Final and we won. And now, we're in the Finals of WASL. We're gonna do the same," said the 27-year-old, who has also won club titles in Africa and in other parts of West Asia.

Or rather, WASL championships -- not only do they have a shot at capturing the WASL-West Asia crown, but the crew of Coach Ahmad El Farran could also rule all of WASL since they've made their way into the Final 8 as well.

And Al Riyadi are coming in as a favorite.

Aside from the fact that they're the most decorated Lebanese club, the way they've improved their roster over the past few months have made fans and pundits alike believe that they could go all the way in the newest regional club tilt.

Prior to the Qualification to the Semi-Finals, the team signed up former Kazma standout Kevin Murphy, and the spitfire winger would go on to play a big role in eliminating Orthodox Amman in a best-of-3 series that went the limit.

Then they picked up Duop Reath for the Semis, and he quickly announced his arrival by helping bring the Game 1 win through a solid outing -- a win that gave them the momentum to sweep Beirut Club in the following meeting.

Reath fitting in like a glove to Arakji, Murphy, and the rest of Al Riyadi have made Farrad beyond convinced that they have found the 'missing piece' to a lineup that boasts a bevy of national team standouts.

But then, all that talk won't mean a thing without a ring.

So, Arakji is out to win it.

He promises to, especially to their believers.

"I promise our fans that we will be winning the West Asia Super League," he said.

He vowed, too, that they'll prepare the best they can for the best-of-3 Final against Gorgan beginning on May 11 in Tehran, which will surely be one exciting series as it will feature two of the best ball clubs from Lebanon and Iran.

"We will be ready," said Arakji.