Emir Cup winners Al Arabi will meet two-time Qatar Volleyball League defending champions Al Rayyan in the inaugural Super Cup Volleyball today at the Indoor Hall of Arabi Stadium.
As the 46th edition of the Qatar league starts on Sunday, the Super Cup is definitely a wakeup call for the arch-rivals, who have won 32 league titles between them. “We are grateful for the opportunity to play in the first Super Cup as it’s like a wake up battle right before the start of the season for both the teams,” Arabi star Juma Faraz said, while addressing a press conference on the eve of the QR100,000 one-day event.
A record 24-times league champions Arabi, who won the QVA (Federation) Cup last week defeating two-time defending champions El Jaish (3-2), start as favourties against their rivals. On the other hand, Rayyan are eyeing for their ninth league crown, but are short of preparations for the Super Cup as most of their players missed the Federation Cup due to national-team commitments and they failed to reach the semi-finals.
“Yes we start as the favourites, but we also have the capabilities to finish as the winner as we proved in the QVC Cup,” Arabi coach Adil Sinoun said.
Rayyan, who surprised everyone by reaching the final of the FIVB Club World Championship in Brazil, is ready to test their strength under its new high-profile coach Italian Daniele Bagnoli.
“It’s is a strange situation for me. I am with the team since the last three months but did not get the opportunity to test our strength, but now I think this event is a perfect platform to asses ourselves against a top team like Arabi,” Bagnoli said.
“Of course Arabi is a big favourite for the match. They are a top club in Qatar, but we also have a good chance to see how much the gap between the two teams is,” the 61-year-old Italian said.
Rayyan skipper Ali Ishaq was also of the opinion that this is the competition to evaluate his team. “This is the first competition for us. Tomorrow we have a chance to regroup ourselves before the start of the hectic season,” Ishaq said.
Qatar Volleyball Association’s executive director Ahmed Amanallah al-Sheebani and Arabi’s Kenyan recruit Philip Maiyo were also present during the press conference.
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