Pereira, Younousse stun Olympic silver medallists in Gstaad Major

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Qatar’s Jefferson Santos Pereira overcame food poisoning and combined with Cherif Younousse to post the biggest upset during the first round of men’s pool play action at the $600,000 Gstaad Major with a three-set win over Olympic silver medal winners Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy in Gstaad on Wednesday.

Seeded 29th after winning two qualifying matches on Tuesday, Jefferson and Cherif posted a 2-1 (13-21, 21-13, 23-21) Pool D win in 47 minutes over the fourth-seeded Lupo and Nicolai. It was the Qatar duo’s first win in three FIVB World Tour meetings with the Italians.

Talking after the match, Pereira commented, “We had lost our last match to the Italian in Russia. We began well but it was the same result in the end as we could not sustain the level. We are kind of tired to lose after coming so close to the win.

“But today, we were just determined to do anything to win. I was pushing myself to play as I had a really bad night yesterday, fighting off the food poisoning.

“The problem was so much that I did not have even warm-up. But I didn’t want to give up today and I kind of forced myself to play.

“I wasn’t ready in the first set but we were really firm to get some points in the beginning of the second set and then see how we go from there.

“It was a big turn-around and we won the set the same way we had lost the first one and it gave us a lot of much-needed boost. We continued and managed to knock out the Italians.

“Honestly, due to sickness, I didn’t expect to win against a big team like this. But the real motivation came in the second set and we just carried on the good work to complete the remarkable win,” added Pereira.

“After the match, I had not energy left in me and started to vomit again. But we’re very happy with the win and will keep pushing ourselves till we finish the tournament.”

Jefferson and Cherif conclude the pool play on Thursday and Friday with matches against American and Chilean pairs, respectively.

Entering this week’s FIVB World Tour event in the Swiss Alps village, Jefferson and Cherif won only two of six matches in their previous tournaments this season after placing 33rd, 25th, 17th and 33rd at international events in China, Russia, the Netherlands and Croatia.

Prior to the 2017 campaign, the Qatar tandem had placed fifth in the 2015 FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands and ninth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

In addition to the final pool play matches the next two days, the men will play one round of elimination matches in the 24-team bracket on Friday. After two rounds of elimination play on Sunday, the men’s semi-finals and medal matches will be contested on Sunday where the winning team will split the $40,000 first-place prize.