Fighting Qatar seal Olympic qualifier berth
Play-off win over Kazakhstan gives the Maroons another chance.
Qatar ended their campaign in the Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship on a winning note, finishing a creditable ninth in Tehran on Friday. More importantly, they gained entry into the 2020 Olympic qualification tournament for Asian teams to be held in Jiangmen in China in January.
Olympic hosts Japan gain an automatic berth at the Games. And as luck would have it, with them finishing among the top eight in Tehran, ninth-placed Qatar moved up to complete the lineup for the Jiangmen round.
Qatar have been placed in Pool A for the Jiangmen tournament along with hosts China, South Korea and India.
In the play-off match in Tehran, Qatar saw off a late fightback from Kazakhstan to win 25-12, 25-18, 29-31, 25-19. It was a sweet revenge for the Maroons as they had gone down to the Kazakhs just two days ago.
On Friday, Qatar put into practice a vital lesson they had learned from their earlier matches — never allow the opponents to wrest the initiative. The Maroons were late starters against higher-ranked teams. Despite running their rivals close, they never could build an early lead.
- Qatar bt Kazakhstan
25-12, 25-18, 29-31, 25-19.
POOLS FOR OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS IN JIANGMEN
- Pool A:
China, South Korea, Qatar, India
- Pool B:
Iran, Australia, Chinese Taipei, Pakistan
But against the Kazakhs they were aggressive from the word go and that helped them build a big 16-5 advantage in the first set. The change in strategy worked well for them while Kazakhstan seemed a pale shadow of their true selves as Qatar cruised to a 25-12 win in the first set.
In the second too Qatar were well in control. With Kazakhstan hardly putting up any resistance Qatar snatched the set at 25-18.
Given their commanding performance, Qatar were expected to wrap up the third set and match quickly. But while Kazakhstan regrouped, Qatar seemed to have lost the psychological edge at 9-9 and thereafter always trailed their opponents.
Kazakhstan were poised to finish off things at 24-19, but a resurgent Qatar launched a spirited comeback, winning five points in a row to draw level at 24-24.
However, Kazakhstan too were in no mood to give up. Although Qatar trailed by just a point thereafter, sheer grit saw the Kazakhs through, snatching the set at 31-29.
Even though Kazakhstan rode high on the momentum which had swung their way, Qatar raised the level of their game by a notch or two, especially after the scores were tied at 15-15. They pulled away to a four-point lead at 21-17 and never looked back, wrapping up the set and match at 25-19.