Qatari Olympians Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younousse took 34 minutes to engineer a major flutter in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship in Vienna, Austria, beating second seeds Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins in straight sets on Tuesday.
The Qatari team had lost a close match to the rivals in the 2015 Xiamen Open in the only previous meeting before. But using their aggressive strategy, they pushed the Latvians on the backfoot and pulled off a thrilling 21-17 21-19 victory.
Watched by the Qatar Volleyball Association President Ali Ghanim al Kuwari, the Qatari pair won the Pool B with a 3-0 record and the Latvians finished second at 2-1.
Also in Pool B, Germany’s Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen grabbed the third place with a 1-2 record and Jhonatan Golindano and Carlos Rangel of Venezuela were fourth, losing all the three matches.
Younousse, who was at the attack mostly, commented, “I’m so happy about the match. We knew what was before us. That’s why we came so focused – it was for first place. This was like a final for us, as the winner got first in the pool.
“Before the game I was watching what he (Samoilovs) likes to do and what was his best ball. So the first time he did something I watched but then the second time I knew what was happening. Our main goal is to play farther in the tournament and have fun,” added Younousse.
Pereira said, “We came out pretty aggressive and that was the key. Also we were quite relaxed as we knew we had made it to the next stage. Younousse played well and was quite confident, which helped me a great deal.
“This victory was important to boost our confidence. Hopefully it helps us to get a better draw in the next round, but we need to be ready because every team that qualifies the pools can compete and anything can happen. We’ve been playing very consistently here and I hope we can keep advancing,” said the senior partner of the Qatar team, whose next match is slated on August 3.
An upset Samoilovs said, “In the second set, we started on the good side but we lost the side 5-2 then we continued to the bad side. With the wind it was very important when you are on the good side to get more points. Then we came back and it was quite hard and we lost.
They were really tired and we kept our rhythm but then they had a good serve and a good block. We couldn’t seem to get points on the good side.”
Smedins said he would learn from this loss. “It was a good lesson for us. They put some pressure with service and we couldn’t deal with it.
It was a lot of ace service and close to the line. We were just watching the ball fall in the courts and didn’t try to pick it up. There were a few serves that we didn’t set the ball well.
“With good and equal teams it’s not easy to play if you don’t play your best game. They got all their points on one side; they used the wind and we didn’t. We tried also to serve aggressive but we only had a few good serves,” said Smedins.