Qatar to bank on Continental Cup for Rio ticket

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The men entrusted with the job of charting the course of glory for Qatar are optimistic that the GCC nation would soon start reaping the rewards for its massive and sincere efforts.

The Qatar Volleyball Association has opened a fully-equipped academy in Al Gharafa in a bid to promote the beach volleyball and groom the players for international challenges. Their players have already been asserting themselves in the region and continent for some time.

But early this year, Jefferson Pereira and Cherif Younousse clinched the first-ever World Tour medal in Iran when they emerged the champions in the Kish Island Open. Even last year, the duo had qualified for the prestigious World Championship quarter-finals.

Now Qatar are eyeing a berth in the Rio Olympic Games for its main pair of Pereira and Younousse. There are three ways through which they may make it to the Olympic Games in August. The first one is to collect enough ranking points on the World Tour and get into top-15 pairs. The second option is to win the Continental Cup in Australia in June. And the third and last one is to do well in the Continental Cup finals and get the ticket to the 2016 Olympics.

Roberto Reggiani, the QVA Beach Volleyball Coordinator and Qatar coach Pedro Paulo Costa, who appreciate the amount of efforts the QVA is putting in and hope the future is quite bright for this Gulf nation, feel that the Continental Cup is the best option for Pereira and Younousse if they want to figure in the Rio Games.

The reason behind this thinking is that Pereira is nursing a small groin injury that he suffered in the last World Tour event in Brazil. There is no apparent threat to Pereira right now but he would not be risking too much in the Qatar Open 2016 of which the main round is due to start on Tuesday.

Reggiani said the focus of his main team is now on the Continental Cup, considering the current physical condition of Pereira. “Yeah, that is the best option for us. There we must win and keeping in mind the talent and potential of Pereira and Younousse, it is an achievable target.

“Or we’d try to do well the Continental Cup finals,” he added.

Coach Costa says both Pereira and Younousse are playing well as a team. “We had a good start to the year when we won the Kish Island Open in Iran in February. They have enough caliber to qualify for the Olympic Games even through the points on the World Tour. I know the level is quite high but his players have been teaming up well and putting up good performances.

“We’ll try to play well even in the Qatar Open 2016 and the second round is our minimum target. After that we’ll take one match at a time as see what happens. But Pereira has to be careful about his injury at the same time as our big targets are the Continental Cup and the Continental Cup Finals,” added Costa.

Costa also regretted the withdrawal of Assam Ahmed Mahmoud after he had started to get some good results along side Ahmed Tijan. “Yeah, he was teaming up well with Ahmed and then he had to leave the beach volleyball to concentrate on the indoor volleyball for his club. That is unfortunate but Assam is still welcome and may join us in helping the team prepare (for the future assignments).”

Reggiani said, “We started beach volleyball a bit late, compared to other strong countries whose players have been playing together for years. But we’re progressing fast and hope to overcome our past setbacks.

“The way the QVA is going about the development of beach volleyball here, there is no doubt that Qatar would soon start producing big results,” added Reggiani.

Earlier in the day, QVA Secretary-General Mohammed Ali al Mohannadi, QVA Executive Director Ahmed al Shibani and FIVB Technical Supervisor Joep van Iersel held a press conference.

Ali and Shibani highlighted the preparations for the new addition, while Iersel said the Qatar Open 2016 would be a high-level event as the many top pairs of the world are in Doha seeking to consolidate their positions on the Road to Rio.