Qatar’s top national beach volleyball pair of Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younousse capped their gone by season with a career-high 18th ranking in the world. This was possible largely due to their superb run of three ninth-place finishes on the World Tour, which climaxed with the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna.
The thrilling performances of Pereira and Younousse included their stunning victory over second seeds Latvians Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs during the group stage in the Vienna worlds.
The second duo of Qatar, featuring Julio Cesar do Nascimento and Ahmed Tijan, came close to winning a title on the World Tour’s smaller events, figuring in two successive finals.
At the moment, the whole bunch is going through its paces and motions to consolidate their good efforts for the rest of the year.
The rise of the Qataris has come as a delight for the Argentine mentor Mariano Baracetti, who is himself a gold medallist in the 2001 worlds with Martin Conde. The national coach reviewed the season by saying, “The season was very good and I feel it can be even better in the future for both teams. Team N1 (Pereira and Younousse) improved in the world ranking and we are close to consolidating our position inside the top 20 teams in the world.
“Team N2 is also fast improving their level and performance as was evident towards the end of the season,” he added. Do Nascimento and Tijan came up with a fine showing and reached the finals in Agadir (1*) and Espino (2*) events.
Talking about the lead pair of Pereira and Younousse, Baracetti said, “They started their thrilling sequence two events before the worlds and their display in the world championships was certainly the brightest spot of the season for them.”
Just before the world championships, Pereira and Younousse, who won two titles on the Asian Tour this season, participated in the Gstaad Major in Switzerland and earned the ninth place. Then they finished ninth again in the Olsztyn Open in Poland.
The Qatar coach says the two national teams are dedicated and pushing the workload bar up but given the high-level of competition on the World Tour, they will have to keep working hard. “Both teams need to keep up this level of competition and training to reach their best.”
Baracetti’s target is to improve the tactical parts of the Qatari pairs. “Pablo and I spent the time this season on improving the technical levels of all the players. For the next season, I’ve planned to sharpen the tactical aspects of the Qatari teams further.
“Also we’re going to have a World Tour event in Doha again and it is something we all have to take advantage of.”
Commenting on do Nascimento and Ahmed, the coach said, “They have made a good impact on the World Tour and proved their potential by playing two finals in a row. They got better with the season but they are yet to get to their best. They can do it, I am confident and it is just a matter of time and hard work.”
The next big target for the Qatari players is the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. “The roadmap for the Olympic Games in Tokyo is to work hard every day and be consistent. Though there are still two and a half years to the Olympics, I’d prefer to make sure that we’re doing everything right. Not only are the next two years important for us, but also the next two days.”
Qatar have a small bunch of beach volleyball players but they are a highly dedicated and motivated lot. Baracetti has a word of praise for the Qatar Volleyball Association for its support to them. “The QVA is always open and listens to ideas that may improve the standards of beach volleyball in the country. Of course, we’re also eager to grab every chance that can lead us to this goal.”