Qatar to field three teams for Aspire Cup
The FIVB’s beach volleyball competition will be an apt stage for Qatar’s young and upcoming stars to prove themselves.
Just a few weeks after the popular ANOC World Beach Games ended, Doha is gearing up for another similar competition – the Aspire Beach Volleyball Cup.
The one-star tournament, which is a part of the 2019-20 FIVB World Tour calendar, will kick off on Tuesday at the Al Gharafa Centre Court.
Thirty one teams from 20 countries, are participating in the four-day tournament.
The competitions will begin with a qualification round on Tuesday, where four sides will advance to the 16-team main draw. Pool matches will be played on Wednesday, elimination rounds on Thursday and the gold and bronze medal matches on Friday.
While the Qatari star pair of Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan will be missing in action, six players, in three teams, will take the country’s challenge forward in the $5,000 competition.
The first team comprises Denis Messelmani and Ahmed Ali Nassir, the second consists of Assam Ahmed Mahmoud and Mahdi Badreddin Sammoud while the third team features Ziad Benlouaer and Saifeddine Aziz Elmajid.
Qatar Volleyball Association president Ali Ghanim Al Kuwari said fielding three teams was a deliberate move.
“First, this is a one-star tournament where higher-ranked players are barred from taking part. But this being Cherif and Ahmed’s home tournament, we still could’ve fielded them. However, we chose to go with three new teams. We’ve great potential in beach volleyball and want to develop more players. This is the ideal way to do it,” he told Inside Qatar.
Messelmani, who was one of Qatar’s key players en route to their silver medal at the ANOC World Beach Games, said they would try hard to make an impact.
“This game is vastly different from 4×4 volleyball. We’ve been training together for some time and will also have home support. We hope to do well and we’ll give it our best shot,” he said.
Brazilian coach Pedro Pablo Costa was optimistic about the teams doing well.
“This is a completely new game for many of our players. But we’ve been training twice each day for the last few weeks, and they’re as ready as they can be. I’m confident they’ll put their best foot forward,” he told Inside Qatar.
Sweden’s David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig are likely to be Qatar’s biggest challengers.
The teenagers, gold medallists at the ’18 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games, were also fifth at the ’19 FIVB World Tour event in Goteborg.
The Aspire Cup is the fourth stop of the new World Tour calendar, after tournaments in Bandar Torkaman, Iran, Qinzhou, China and Tel Aviv, Israel.
Qatar will also host a four-star tournament of the FIVB World Tour next year, from March 9 to 13, at the Katara Cultural Village. It will carry total prize money of $150,000.