Qatari athletes ready to delight home fans
The hosts have several medal contenders in their ranks and they are gearing up in right earnest.
Hosts Qatar will be keen to put up a strong show in the first ANOC World Beach Games, with their medal chances bright in many of the eight disciplines they are participating.
Handball is one of Qatar’s strong areas. But the five-time Asian champions will have their task cut out in Group B, which also features 2018 Beach World Championship runners-up Croatia, bronze medallists Hungary, Spain, Uruguay and Tunisia.
A total of 12 teams have been divided into two groups, with Group A comprising Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Oman, USA and Australia.
The top four teams from each group will progress to the knockout quarterfinals.
Tough competition for sure, but their captain Mohamed Hassan said Qatar was well prepared for the challenge.
“We’ve been training together for almost two months. And that’s made us a strong unit. Home conditions should definitely give us some advantage,” he told Inside Qatar.
|AQUATHLON||Abdulla Shaheen Al Kaabi|
|Fahad Ahmad Al Mohammad|
|BEACH HANDBALL||Mustafa Alsaltialkrad|
|Mahmoud Hassan Balla|
|Kamal Aldin Mallash|
|3X3 BASKETBALL||Moustafa Fouda|
|Aladji Bobo Magassa|
|Ndoye Elhadj Seydou|
|BEACH TENNIS||Mubaraka Al Naimi|
|Sultan Al Alawi|
|KARATE KATA||Adham Hashim|
|Mona Saud Alkharfi|
|OPEN WATER SWIMMING 5KM||Nada Arakji|
|BEACH VOLLEYBALL 4X4||Nassir Ali|
|BEACH WRESTLING||Bakhit Badr|
Confident yet cautious is the approach of Hassan and his bunch.
“Looking at the team line-ups in Doha, I feel the Asian competitions were far easier. We’ve got the world’s 12 best teams here. We won’t take anyone lightly. We’ll go at it one game at a time,” the 35-year-old said.
Qatar’s fans at the sand courts of the Al Gharafa Sports Club will hope that for Hassan and his team, the one-game-at-a-time approach stretches till the medal round.
Even the basketball fans will be hoping for the same. The Qatar 3×3 team will take on some of the top teams in the world and they will also bank on home support to notch a good finish.
Qatar Basketball Federation General Secretary Ali Saeed Al Malki said, “Our players are excited to compete at home. They’re all fit, and we’ll enjoy home advantage. They’re well prepared, having attended a training camp in China and played several matches.”
Qatar’s campaign in Group C will begin on October 13, with games against Ivory Coast and Togo. Their last group game will be against Slovenia on October 15.
While Group A features Russia, Latvia, Brazil and Uganda, Group B consists of China, Dominican Republic, Argentina and Brazil. Group D will see Mongolia, Ukraine, Namibia and Jordan compete against one another.
Top two in each group will qualify to the quarterfinals.
In beach volleyball, leading lights Cherif Younousse and Tijan Ahmed will be part of Qatar’s quest in a challenging 4×4 format. If Qatar, who are grouped with Germany, USA and Indonesia in Group A, start on a winning note, the momentum could carry them through to the medal rounds. Group B features Poland, Chile, Australia and Mozambique.
After the group phase, all teams will progress to the knockout quarterfinals, with the league ties used to determine the playing order.
Qatari athletes will also compete in beach wrestling, aquathlon, 5km open water swimming, beach tennis and karate kata.
Abdurrahman Hisham, who won bronze at last year’s GCC Championships in Kuwait, will spearhead Qatar’s challenge in the 5km open water event. Nada Arkaji, who represented Qatar at the 2012 London Olympics, will compete in the women’s section.
Two other women members in the Qatar squad are tennis player Mubaraka Al Naimi and karateka Mona Saud Alkharfi.