Defending champions Al Rayyan of Qatar stumbled when and where it mattered most to hand over victory on a platter of gold to Dar Kulaib of Bahrain as the 36th GCC Clubs Volleyball Championship came to an end in Doha on Friday.
Topping the table with 12-point as against Dar Kulaib’s 10 going into the final day, Al Rayyan, a three-time champions, could not secure the all important one-point that could have sealed victory for them as they suffered a disappointing 3-0 (29-27, 25-22, 25-22) defeat in the hands of Al Salam of Oman in their last match of the seven-team tournament.
Dar Kulaib, on the other hand, ensured they took the maximum advantage of the Qatari side’s stumble as they posted a convincing 3-1 (16-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-22) victory over the other representative from Qatar, Al Arabi, in the last match of the day.
The Bahraini side finished the annual regional competition on 13 points as the faltering Al Rayyan were rooted to the second position with their 12 points, same as Al Salam on Oman.
The other Bahraini side, Al Ahli, finished fourth with 11 points while Al Arabi’s eight-point finish could only see them emerged fifth. The sixth position went to Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, a four-time champions.
Al Ain, who were the whipping team of the tournament, ended the point without a single point as they were comprehensively beaten in all of their six matches in Doha.
On Friday, a first time attendee at the nine-day tournament, which began on March 8, would have almost assumed he was in Bahrain as the inside of the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, the venue of the championship, was crowded by the supporters of Dar Kulaib whose purple coloured team shirt was a sight to behold.
The win was the first for the Bahraini side, while Al Rayyan missed the chance of being joint-fourth with Al Hilal on the overall winners table had they won for the fourth time.
“We are very disappointed with the outcome of today’s match. We were almost there but we couldn’t really get there. This is a big blow to our ambition and we are really troubled that we couldn’t finish as planned,” Al Rayyan’s Raimi Wadidie said after the match.
“I can’t give any excuse for today’s performance but I believe we’ve learnt our lessons and go back to the drawing board to improve from hereon. We want to apologise to our supporters for the result,” he added.
The event was attended by QOC Secretary-General Dr Thani Abdulrahman al Kuwari, Qatar Volleyball Association President Ali Ghanem al Kuwari and other dignitaries.
Dar Kulaib (Bahrain) 3-1 Al Arabi (Qatar) (16-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-22)
Al Salam (Oman) 3-0 Al Rayyan (Qatar) (29-27, 25-22, 25-22)
Al Ahli (Bahrain) 3-0 Al Ain (UAE) (25-12, 25-22,26-24)
Written by: Victor Bolorunduro