Gritty Al Wakrah pull off shock win over Al Rayyan
The Super Cup champions go down 1-3 as Wakrah’s Venezuelan spikers prove deadly; Police outgun Al Shamal.
Al Wakrah coach Mohammed Magdy jumped up in joy and then ran onto the court to embrace his players as they gathered for a group hug. Their joy knew no bounds, justifiably so. They had pulled off an incredible 3-1 (23-25, 28-26, 26-24, 25-21) victory over Super Cup champions Al Rayyan in the Qatar Volleyball League at the Al Arabi Sports Club on Monday.
Considering that they had gone down 1-3 in their previous encounter against Al Arabi on Saturday, Wakrah were not given much of a chance on Monday. Even when they ran their opponents close in the first set, they were never expected to go all the way. But in an amazing performance, they fought back from a set down to draw level and win the next two sets over the favourites.
Coach Magdy was pleased.
“Beating the Super Cup champions is not easy. My players were very focused today. That’s what won us the game,” he said.
He also mentioned that Venezuelan Ivan Jo Fernandez, who was their key player of the day, was back to full fitness.
“Ivan was injured and that affected his performance in the previous match. Today, he was back to his original game and it was a big boost,” said Magdy.
- Al Wakrah bt Al Rayyan 23-25, 28-26, 26-24, 25-21; Police bt Al Shamal 25-11, 25-18, 25-17.
- WEDNESDAY’S MATCH
- Al Ahli vs Qatar SC – 5.15pm; Al Arabi vs Al Khor – 6.30pm
Ivan did play a key role for his team but Wakrah’s win was not due to his efforts alone. There was enough support from his countryman Hector Salemo and Qatari national team player Nikola Vasic. At crucial times, Tarek Abdulkhalek came up with superb saves and blocks. It was truly a splendid team effort.
While Wakrah’s efforts cannot be discredited, Al Rayyan were upset by some of the refereeing decisions in the second set. Their players protested against couple of calls which ultimately handed Wakrah the two points they needed to win the set at 28-26.
That seemed to have given Wakrah the boost they needed. And the focus which coach Magdy was talking about showed when the scores were at 8-7 in their favour in the third set. Al Rayyan threw all that they had into their attack as Marco Fereira from the left and De Souza from the right sent down the smashes. A clever lob also came from Belal Abunabot. But the Wakrah defence had an answer to everything. They dived, lunged and blocked effectively and when the time came, a stinging spike from Ivan won them the point much to the delight of their coach and the surprise of the Al Rayyan team.
Wakrah took much heart from that point and grew in strength from thereon. Rayyan ran them close but they just about stayed ahead to win the set at 26-24.
It gave Wakrah a big advantage but Al Rayyan can never be discounted and they came back strongly in the fourth set. Ivan was on hand to bail out Wakrah as Al Rayyan were floored by sheer power, with even their experienced setter Milos unable to make a difference.
A change in attackers for Al Rayyan, with captain Mubarak Abdullah replacing Ferreira midway through the fourth set, also did not help. Wakrah powered ahead and won the set and match at 25-21.
In the second match of the day, Police scored an easy straight-sets win over Al Shamal. The defending league champions won 25-11, 25-18, 25-17.