By Yash Mudgal/Doha
Al Arabi once again proved their supremacy in the domestic volleyball circuit as they clinched their 22nd Emir Cup title with a straights set 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-17) victory over El Jaish yesterday.
At the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Arabi played to their strengths to stop the Armymen from winning their second title of the season and in the process, Maaouia Lajnef’s boys completed an Emir Cup title hat-trick. Recently-crowned league champions Arabi had defeated Al Rayyan in last year’s final and Police the year before that.
Yesterday’s win also completed a domestic treble for Arabi, with Super Cup and the league already in the bag.
The architect of Arabi’s victory, Italian Ivan Zaytsev, who scored 16 points, was all praise for his teammates.
“We are really happy to win the Emir Cup third time in a row. It is a very good win for us. The credit goes to team work. It is always good to see your teammates fighting together,” Zaytsev, who was declared Player of the Match for his stellar display, told Gulf Times.
“We were confident that if play according to our strengths we will win the title. I think our service disrupted Jaish’s game plan,” he said.
With the victory, Arabi also avenged their Qatar Cup semi-final loss to Jaish.
“Yes, for sure, we are happy to beat Jaish after losing to them in Qatar Cup,” he said.
Arabi controlled the opening set right from the start. Using superb service and clever net play, especially by Renan Rebeiro, Ibrahim Mohamed and Ahmed Bassam, they enjoyed the lead and shot five points clear (15-10).
This, coupled with sound defence, was more than enough to keep Arabi rolling and Jaish under pressure.
Arabi looked more fluent and dangerous with all-round volleyball in the second set. After some initial resistance, Arabi moved five points ahead again at 19-14. Camejo and Simon sparked a rally and Jaish came within a point of drawing level (22-21), but two brilliant smashes, especially the second one off a fine retrieve by Rebeiro, brought them up to 24-21. Then Simon spiked the ball into the net and Arabi grabbed a commanding 2-1 lead. Arabi completed the rout, working diligently on widening the gap in the third set.
Jaish and Arabi were clashing for a title for the second time this season. Earlier, they were pitted in the season-opening QVA Cup final, which the Armymen won 3-1, after rallying from one set down.
Though Jaish lost their second final of the season, their coach Zohair Belhadj was all praise for his boys.
“I am happy with team’s performance in the season. I am indeed satisfied with our report card of the season, we featured in three finals in the seasons and emerged winners in one of them,” Belhadj said.
Belhadj gave full credit to Arabi for their win, but he was disappointed with the hectic schedule of the season.
“Arabi played well, they deserved to win, full credit to them. Our strength has been to fight back when we are down. We could not do it today. I had said on the eve of the final that we are ‘physically down’. We knew that if Arabi played well in the final we will not be able to bounce back as we were physically exhausted having played a long season. So today, you saw we tried to make a comeback but did not have the physical energy to do so,” the Tunisian said.
Jaish’s Cuban star Robertlandy Simon scored match-high 17 points.
Qatar Olympic Committee secretary general Dr Thani al-Kuwari and Qatar Volleyball Association president Khalid Ali al-Mawlawi presented the awards.
Al Arabi Club took home QR500,000, while El Jaish collected QR250,000.
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