19 December, 2022
25 May, 2023
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Tough challenges ahead for well-prepared Omar Cheikh Ali, Al Karamah Blue Eagles

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Al Karamah are a storied club in Syria basketball. The Blue Eagles were founded way back in 1928 as the Khalid Bin Walid Sports Club, but later changed to its current name in 1971.

However, it was only until this recent decade that Al Karamah have taken flight to become one of the top clubs in Syria. This is highlighted by back-to-back trips to the Syrian Basketball League Finals in 2021 and 2022.

In particular, it was in 2021 when the Blue Eagles soared to win their very first Syrian Basketball League title over Al Wahda. That title campaign was fueled by their star Omar Cheikh Ali, who was also key in the team’s run back to the Finals even after finishing at 4th place in the regular season standings.


The next challenge for Al Karamah and Cheikh Ali now is in the WASL West Asia League, a return to the elite continental stage for the proud Syrian club.

"The return of the Syrian basketball clubs to foreign competitions is an excellent step," said Cheikh Ali, in reference to Al Ittihad who are also competing in WASL West Asia League. "The level of the Syrian players will rise. Al Karamah is supported by new elements, and it is time for harmony. The team is well prepared to enter the championship, knowing that the group is not easy, but we will be ready."

The Blue Eagles and Cheikh Ali will have to be ready for their opponents in Group B which includes Gorgan from Iran, Al Naft from Iraq, and Al Riyadi from Lebanon. Each of the teams are strong contenders from their respective countries - as are Alkarame - which is why Cheikh Ali emphasized on being prepared for the competition.

The 31-year-old knows realizes the level of competition expected in the upcoming games. He’s competed against a similar set of players at a high level for many years whether it’s with the Syria national team through two Asia Cups and two World Cup Qualifiers or with other clubs in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup WABA Qualifiers.

He knows that it will be a different level than what Al Karamah have faced in the past.

"With the presence of foreign talents, the level of the league will rise," said the 2.04M (6'8") forward. "This will be reflected in the level of the Syrian teams."

This inaugural season will progress in the Group Stage with all teams in the same group playing against each other in a home-and-away format. At the end of the Group Stage, the first-place teams in each group will advance directly to the Semi-Finals. The second- and third-place teams will crossover to play in the Qualification to Semi-Finals match-ups.

The challenge will be tough, but that is what Cheikh Ali and Al Karamah are looking for - a challenge.

"The participation of Al Karamah is an important step to enter with a new spirit and a high level, of course, with good preparation that fits the league."