Al Rayyan Club, with four titles already under the belt (QVA Super Cup, Arab Clubs Championship, Qatar National Tournament and QVA League), face an acid test on Friday when they clash with Police for the Qatar Cup Volleyball Championship crown at the QVA Hall at 6.15 pm.
The Qatar Cup final carries QR500,000 total prize money with QR300,000 going to the winners, according to Qatar Volleyball Association Executive Director Ahmed Shibani. Besides, there are individual awards as well for the best pro and home players.
The QVA will honour two players posthumously for their remarkable services to the sport. They are Ahmed Seif and Fahad Medadi.
At a press conference on Thursday, QVA Board Member Saeed Salem said,”The final is expected to be a high-level affair with both best Al Rayyan Club and Police being the best teams of this season. The QVA wishes good luck to them and expects the players to put up a good show not only for the fans but also for the Qatar volleyball.”
Performance wise, both runners-up Al Rayyan and Police emerged as the best sides and it was no fluke when they held off Qatar Sports Club and holders Al Arabi, respectively, and made it to the final.
The season began with the Super Cup win for Al Rayyan and it was the first time that The Lions won the title in four attempts, having lost to Al Arabi on all three previous occasions. Then they followed it up with a really big one, the Arab Clubs Championship and dethroned Police to bag the League for the ninth time.
Apart from the Super Cup, the Carlos Schwanke-tutored Al Rayyan Club needed five sets to overpower Police, coached by Damian Arrendondo, in the League twice. Al Rayyan have just dropped one out of 22 matches this season in Qatar. This happened in the first match of the four-team Qatar Cup. But Al Rayyan Club immediately found solutions and knocked out QSC 2-1.
As far as the Al Rayyan vs Police clashes are concerned, the latter have troubled the opponents but failed to deliver the knock-out blow. If they really want to tame The Lions, their best chance is the final on the morrow.
On all the three occasions this season, Police led but could not sustain the pressure. Barring the Super Cup, in which Al Rayyan sealed a 3-1 win, they were in fact twice ahead. Al Rayyan Club however changed the gears at the right time and wriggled through. The third match, which closed out the League, was a big revelation. Al Rayyan contrived the win to show their tough character as they were depleted side due to bans and were trailing twice.
Coach Schawanke said,”The secret of our success this season has been our tough preparations. We prepared all the players in such a way that they can replace anybody at any time. All of them are getting chances and I know Police are a difficult side and the Qatar Cup final is also going to be quite stiff for us.
“However, we take it as a big test for us. We need a different approach and formation. We have the players who can deliver it again but we have to certainly play our best game once again if we are to continue our winning march and bag the fourth title,” Schwanke added.
Police coach Arrendondo said while talking about the final,”This is not a revenge match. Al Rayyan Club have been the best team of the season and they are playing strong volleyball. We do have the abilities but we need to be a bit lucky during the tight situations. If we can gain some of the crucial points in the final, we can get the better of Al Rayyan. But it will never going to be easy.”
Also present during the press conference were Police team manager Rashid Mahmoud, pro player Mads Ditlevsen and Nadir Abubakr. From Al Rayyan Club, team manager cum player Ali Ishaq and libero Suliman Saeed attended the press meeting. All of them expressed hopes of a final with many ups and downs.
Al Rayyan Club:
Ivan Brovnjak, Marcus, Milos Stevanovic, Belal Abu Nabout, Ali Ishaq, Rahimi Wadidi, Bairama Faye, Andre Luiz, Milos Nikic, Suliman (L) and Ahmed.
Head coach: Carlos Schwanke; Assistant coach: Toufik Benmessedak.
Bobi, Mads Ditlevsen, Moses, Vantislav, John Chigbo, Neto, Nadir Abubakr, Elakar, Nagi (L), Ziad.
Head coach: Damian Arredondo; Assistant coach: Pablo Gianelli