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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Qatar have it easy against Australia

Spiker Mubarak leads the way as the hosts notch up a straight sets win.
Qatar’s Mubarak Lobs One Over The Australian Blockers In The International Friendly At Al Arabi Sports Club
Qatar’s Mubarak lobs one over the Australian blockers in the international friendly at Al Arabi Sports Club. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Solid in defence, powerful in their smashes and deceptive in their placements. This was what Qatar came up with on Friday and it fetched them a commanding 25-21, 25-15, 25-19 win over Australia in their fourth international volleyball friendly at the Al Arabi Sports Club today.

Australia’s spikes were blunted at the net itself while their blocks lacked the ability to firewall effectively. With two key aspects nullified by the Qatar team, Australia never  got a foothold in the match. They were always playing catch up with their opponents.

A disappointed Australian coach Mark Lebedew attributed the loss to lack of focus. “We lost a few points initially and could not regroup after that. We won a few points occasionally but were never really in the game,” he said.

“Our side-out did not really work and that is crucial in men’s volleyball. If that fails there is little one can do. Also, we were not sure about Qatar as we watched them only once yesterday in training,” said Lebedew.

Qatar coach Camilo Soto credited his team’s consistency. “They were very focused today, something which we lacked in the first two matches against India. But that I attribute to rustiness. They have learned a lot from the previous two matches and put that into practice today,” said Soto.

“A win against Australia is a good achievement considering that they play more domestic matches than us,” added Soto.

If there was one player who stood out for Qatar, it was Mubarak. The onus is usually on Ibrahim and Abubakr to fetch the points from the spikes. On this day, Mubarak’s display overshadowed the other two. His spikes from the right found their mark almost every time. He was accurate and packed plenty of punch. On occasion, his blocking too came in handy. But it was his spikes that saw Qatar get off to a great start in the first set.

Qatar raced to a  4-1 lead but Australia drew level. As the game wore on,  it was evident that Qatar were the dominant team and they soon went ahead at 16-11. They pulled away to 21-12 till a few errors saw them surrender points. It was not too damaging as the hosts closed out the set at 25-21.

In the second set, a pep talk from Lebedew seemed to have helped as Australia ran Qatar close in the initial stages. Coach Soto then introduced Nikola who along with Mubarak pierced through the opponents’ defence. The spikes seemed to always find empty spaces on the Australian court. Qatar accumulated points quickly and won the set 25-15.

In the third set, Williams seemed to be on hand to bail Australia out when they were in trouble. The left-hander was accurate and powerful with his spikes. His lone contribution only helped Australia gain a few points. Qatar sped away and wrapped up the set and the match at 25-19.

In another match China beat India 25-18, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19.