Jubilation and heartbreak for home teams
Qatar’s volleyball team makes it to the final while the handball team narrowly loses to world champions Brazil.
Qatar’s teams had mixed luck in the Association of National Olympic Committees’ (ANOC) World Beach Games at the Al Gharafa Centre Court on Tuesday.
The 4×4 volleyball team entered the gold-medal round with a convincing 24-22, 21-15 win over Poland but it was heartbreak in handball. The home team narrowly lost to five-time world champions Brazil on penalties (14-15, 14-10, 4-7).
The volleyball semifinal began on an even keel, with both Poland and Qatar showing early nerves resulting in errors.
Cherif Younousse, Qatar’s star beach volleyball player, helped steady his team’s ship. And even during the course of the match, he had a say in almost 80% of the team’s total points proving to be a one-man army. The 24-year-old showed a maturity far beyond his years, and was the difference between the teams on Tuesday.
After the match, Cherif speaking to Inside Qatar, said the team continuously evolved in the game.
“The first set was an up and down affair, with both sides dominating in parts. We identified our mistakes on the go and rectified them, thanks to our better experience. The Polish side failed in this department, and we got the upper hand,” he said.
The player, who along with Ahmed Tijan is ranked 14th in the FIVB Beach Volleyball rankings, said Qatar had found the perfect mix of players.
|Brazil bt Qatar||15-14, 10-14, 7-4|
|Spain bt Sweden||22-20, 16-17, 9-8|
|Qatar bt Poland||24-22, 21-12|
|USA bt Indonesia||21-15, 21-12|
|FINAL||Brazil vs Spain|
|BRONZE MEDAL||Qatar vs Sweden|
|FINAL||Qatar vs USA|
|BRONZE MEDAL||Poland vs Indonesia|
“I do most of the team’s attacks and blocks because I’m more used to the beach game. The other players, having played mostly indoors, are terrific in receiving shots. We’re an ideal mix,” he said.
Qatar take on USA who overcame Indonesia 21-15, 21-12 in the other semifinal.
In the handball semifinal, five-time Asian champions Qatar had luck to blame as they gave Brazil a run for their money. The two teams, meeting at a major event for the fourth time, attacked from the word go.
Qatar captain Mohammed Hassan scored from the spot thrice in a row to give his team the advantage.
With 15 seconds remaining on the clock in the first set, Qatar had the initiative. But Mahmoud Hassaballa was a fraction of a second late, and the buzzer sounded just as the ball hit the back of the net. The referee denied Qatar’s loud appeal for the goal and they lost it at 14-15.
Qatar hit back to win the second set 14-10 but suffered a setback after Mahmoud was red-carded for a dangerous tackle on Joao Paullo Rego de Sousa. The misstep cost them the final.
“Mahmoud usually opens our penalty throw round. In his absence, Hani Kakhi started, and he failed to convert the first throw. It put us under pressure. You can’t afford such mistakes against Brazil,” Qatar coach Khaled Hassan told Inside Qatar.
Of the five penalty attempts, Brazil converted everything except the second throw. Qatar could score only from the second and fourth attempts.
The Qatari coach chose to focus on the game’s positives.
“This is our fourth meeting with Brazil, and we almost had them this time, despite missing several key players. I’m confident the result will be different next time. Our focus will now be on the bronze medal match,” he said.
In the bronze medal match, Qatar take on Sweden, who went down to Spain 20-22, 17-16, 8-9.