By Yash Mudgal/ Doha
Qatar’s 4x4 volleyball team inched closer to a possible ANOC World Beach Games gold medal as the hosts defeated Chile 2-0 (21-13, 21-18) to enter the semi-finals yesterday.
The beach handball team also advanced to the last four, beating Australia 2-0 (24-17 21-14), staying on course for what could be a potential second gold medal.
In volleyball, it was Qatar’s fourth win from as many matches and once again they were helmed by their star player Cherif Younousse with 15 points, including 12 from attack.
“We’re very pleased to be in the semi-finals of the World Beach Games. Since the format is new to us and we did not have enough time, there have been some mistakes. We’ve been trying to reduce them and will continue to do so,” Younousse said.
The first set was an easy one and in the second set also Qatar took a commanding 10-5 lead. However, Chile showed some resistance and reduced the gap. But Seifeddine Elmajid, who contributed 12 points, came up with his superb play and helped the hosts maintain the lead.
At 17-15, Younousse picked two consecutive points to take Qatar 19-15 clear. Elmajid followed it up with a clever drop to get the match point on the board (20-16). Chile saved two points but it was late for them as Elmajid sealed the victory with a deep smash.
Younousse proved himself a true leader for his team who are still unbeaten in the tournament. He has added responsibility on his shoulder as his regular partner on the world beach volleyball tour, Tijan, is injured and sitting out the action. Younousse-Tijan are World No 14 in FIVB World Ranking.
“Tijan’s absence has been a big blow for us, but he is with us to provide his moral support from the bench. All the players are trying to do their best and we’re proud to be one step away from reaching the final,” he said.
Qatar’s blocker Ziad Benlouaer was also satisfied with his team’s performance.
“We’re gelling well as a team in this format. We cleared the prelims and managed to enter the knockout stage. We had a good match against Chile and cleared one hurdle. The strong way we’re playing, anything is possible. We’re trying to relax and enjoy the matches one by one,” Benlouaer said.
Qatar will take on Poland, who defeated Germany 2-0 (21-11, 21-9), in the semi-final today at 7pm. USA defeated 2-0 (21-14, 21-13) Mozambique to meet Indonesia, who defeated Australia 2-1 (23-25, 21-16, 15-9), in the semi-final.
In handball, the hosts will take on five-time world champions Brazil today. Brazil defeated Croatia 2-1 (30-10, 17-16, 6-4). In other quarter-finals Sweden overcame Hungary 2-1 (17-19, 22-20, 7-4), while Spain beat Denmark in straight sets 2-0 (20-17, 30-24).
Defender Mutasem Mohamed netted nine goals, while right wing Hani Kakhi was hundred percent on the target in his five shots. Veteran defender Mahmoud Hassanballa struck four out of five, while specialist Mohamed Hassan netted three goals in five attempts.
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