Qatar Volleyball Association’s general secretary Mohamed Ali al-Mohannadi (centre), Al Rayyan coach Daniele Bagnoli (right), Al Arabi coach Mawia Alajnaf (third from left) and the players from the two teams pose with the Super Cup trophy at a press conference yesterday.
By Yash Mudgal/Doha
Qatar Volleyball League holders Al Rayyan will take on Emir’s Cup champions Al Arabi in a one-off match for the Super Cup today at the Indoor Hall of Al Arabi Stadium.
This is the second edition of the Cup and likely to set the momentum for the 2015-16 Qatar League, which will start on November 26.
Matches between Rayyan and Arabi have always been high-voltage contests and as both the teams are going to name close to full-strength teams after the Fed Cup, the expectations are a few notches up this time.
“I am expecting a tough match tomorrow. Arabi is a top team and as they are fielding their first-string team this time, we have to be our best to beat them,” Rayyan’s Italian coach Daniele Bagnoli said on the eve of the match.
Rayyan, who clinched their ninth league title last season, lost the Super Cup to Philip Maiyo-inspired Arabi last year, but equation has changed this time as Maiyo has joined the visitors.
“Yes, we lost to Arabi last year and we were not at full strength in Fed Cup as some of our players were injured, but we are well prepared this time and also coming with the full strength. Hopefully, we will put up a good show,” Bagnoli said.
Rayyan lost to eventual champions El Jaish in the semifinals of the Federation Cup (QVA Cup) last Monday.
Talking about Kenyan Maiyo, the 62-year-old Italian said, “Maiyo is a top professional player and his presence has strengthened our side, but it’s not about one player. We have to be at our best as a team against powerful teams like Arabi.”
“Maiyo joined the team in September and I think he is combining well with us and ready for the season.”
The season has already started with the Federation Cup, which was won by El Jaish defeating Al Arabi 3-1. It had, however, proven to be a low-key affair as most of the national team members were taking rest or nursing injuries after the GCC tournament held in Riyadh.
Rayyan’s Osman Ajab echoed the views of his coach by saying his team is ready for today’s match and the forthcoming season. “Our team is fully geared up. The team will be different from the one that played in the Fed Cup and I hope we will have a good outing tomorrow against Arabi. Though we have some injury niggles, but I am sure we would be in full force,” he said.
“Maiyo is a superb professional, he has added value to our squad,” he said.
A record 24 times league champions and winner of four titles last year, Arabi will have to improve on their Fed Cup performance, where the setter proved to be the difference. However, the presence of experienced Juma Faraz, Basan and Mohamed Ibrahim along with their professional player Osmel Kanjo should boost their chances.
“Yes, we had some issues with the team during the Fed Cup. We were testing players there and we had some injury issues also, but hopefully we will have full team tomorrow. It was disappointing to lose after winning the first set in the final,” Arabi coach Mawia Alajnaf said.
“Our setter Saffiuddin al-Majid was not fully fit during the Fed Cup final, but now he has recovered and we have our top players back with us from the national duty. We are more than ready now and hopefully enjoy a good build-up to the league.”
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