It was a good day for the Qatari sides at the ongoing 36th GCC Clubs Volleyball Championship as the country’s representatives Al Rayyan and Al Arabi both posted convincing wins in their matches on Thursday.
Defending champion Al Rayyan Club of Qatar began the defence of their title on a victorious note as they walloped Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 3-1 (18-25, 30-28, 25-18, 25-18) at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena in Doha while Al Arabi bounced back from an opening day defeat to secure a straight sets (25-15, 25-16, 25-16) win over Al Ain of the UAE.
It was a sweet comeback victory for the coach Carlos Schwanke’s Al Rayyan-side as they shook off the jolt of a first set defeat to snatch the win in an emphatic manner to the admiration of the teeming fans who came to cheer them to victory.
While the Qatari side were tasting their first piece of action at the tournament in the encounter, Al Hilal, on the other hand, had their first match on Wednesday, tournament day one, where they handed a 3-1 (33-35, 25/13, 25-23, 25-14) defeat to Al Ain of the UAE. The match was the only match of the opening day that did not enter into a tiebreaker.
The return of the indefatigable Saeed Sulaiman to the team after a six-month injury layoff had a tremendous impact on the morale of Al Rayyan players as the libero was impressive in inspiring the team to victory from the touchlines throughout the duration of the match.
In his absence, the club had posted some not encouraging results, coming third at the 35th Arab Clubs Volleyball Championship held in Bahrain last month and also finished fourth in the recently-concluded Qatar Volleyball League.
Fadhel Abbass was the star of the day as well as the highest scorer for the winners with 15 points. His contribution to the victory goes even beyond his point tally as he was very effective in defending and blocking the attacks from the Saudis when necessary and his good read of the game was worthy of commendations.
“I’m happy with our performance today and equally happy that we are starting this championship on a winning note. We are in good shape and rearing to go and we are confident of defending our title on home soil. I know it is going to be tough but we are equally up to the task,” Abbass said after the match.
Al Rayyan are three-time winners of the annual tournament.
‘The Lion’ first won the title in 2011 on home soil before having a back-to-back victory in 2015 and 2016, where they pipped Al Arabi to the title in Oman.
Al Rayyan is set to renew their rivalry at the regional competition with local foe Al Arabi, Qatar’s other representative at the seven-team tournament, when they clash on March 11.
In the other matches of the day, Bahrain’s Al Ahli made it two-in-two as they recorded their second victory in as many matches during their encounter against Al Salam of Oman.
The Bahraini side posted a dominant performance in their 3-0 (25-21, 25-18,25-23) demolition of the Omani team, who had accounted for the 3-2 defeat of Al Arabi on Wednesday.
While Al Salam will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways in their next match again UAE’s Al Ain on Saturday, Al Ahli, on the other hand, will have to wait until Sunday when they go up against Qatar’s Al Arabi.
Al Rayyan (Qatar) 3 – 1 Al Hilal (KSA) (18/25, 30/28, 25/18 & 25/18)
Al Ahli (Bahrain) 3 – 0 Al Salam (Oman) (25/21, 25/18 & 25/23)
Al Arabi (Qatar) 3 – 0 Al Ain (UAE) (25/15, 25/16 & 25/16)
Written by: Victor Bolorunduro