By Sports Reporter/Doha
Qatar’s Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younousse will be gunning for an Olympic spot with a better performance at the $75,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball Qatar Open, which begins today at Beach Volleyball Academy courts at the Al Gharafa Stadium.
Action from the qualifying round at the Al Gharafa stadium beach courts.
Last year, Pereira and Younousse had bowed out in the second round. But with more experience of playing together this time, the duo would be certainly looking to go much further than the second round this time around.
However, Qatar coach Pedro Paulo Costa knows they will face a stiff opposition in the event, which is the third and last single-gender event on the FIVB’s 2016 Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar.
Costa said his team’s first target is to qualify from the pool and thereafter get ready for the daunting task ahead. “My first goal is to qualify from the pool and thereafter we will take one match at a time approach. My expectations are to qualify from the group and then see what happens. And, thereafter, we will set new goals (for the championship),” said the Brazilian.
Apart from the eighth-seeded Jefferson and Cherif, Qatar’s second team consist of Julio Cesar Do Nascimento and Ahmed Tijan, who are seeded 24th. Costa believes the championship will be the toughest, with some of the world’s 20 best pairs in Doha. And all of them will be keen to pick up points from the event in the Olympic year with Rio qualification upper most on their mind.“We know the level of the competition in the tournament will be very high, the level is close to a Grand Slam tournament. The field is stronger than last year because it is an Olympic year,” he said.
Jefferson and Cherif, who won their first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold medals at the Kish Island Open in February, will aim to show their home fans why they are enjoying a growing reputation on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. To qualify for the Olympics, a team must compete together in at least 12 FIVB World Tour events and/or recognised Continental championships from January 2015 through June 13, 2016. A team’s best 12 finishes will be counted towards determining the pair’s ranking. A maximum of two teams per country is allowed to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Both Pereira and Younousse have played in 11 events till now. The 2016 Qatar Open is their 12th competition before they will be eligible to be part of the race to Rio Olympics.
Five pairs for each gender’s Olympic competition will qualify via Continental Cup action where each FIVB confederation is guaranteed a berth in the Rio 2016 Summer Games. The last qualifying event will be July 6-10 when Russia host the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament in Sochi. The top two teams from each gender from the Continental Cup qualifier will earn the last two pairs in the 24-team Olympic competitions.
The two Qatari pairs in the competition face a daunting task if they are to win the title and Costa is aware that what lies ahead for his players. “I except the best, my teams are ready, but I always remind them it is not our main goal,” Costa said.
“Our main goal is in June. We are still in preparation period (for the AVC Continental Cup Finals in Sydney, Australia). The general expectations are that we will have a good performance at the Qatar Open,” he said.
In January this year, Qatar pulled off a convincing 2-0 victory over Oman in the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Western Zonal Championship in Qatar to qualify for the AVC Continental Cup Beach Volleyball Finals in Australia.
Qatar teams A and B both captured hard-fought 2-1 victories over their Omani rivals on the Qatar Beach Volleyball Academy court.
The AVC Continental Cup Finals are scheduled to take place from June 15 to 21, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. The winners will qualify directly for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Costa, however, cautioned that his players are still at the beginners stage when it comes to preparation for the global events.
“We would like to say that we are still in the beginners’ stage. It is the beginning of everything. So Jefferson and Cherif, they have been playing together for one year. Julio (Cesar Do Nascimento Jr) and Ahmed (Tijan) have started playing together recently. So, it is still a start.”
The two previous Qatar Opens were won by German teams - Tim Holler and Jonas Schroder in 2014 and Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen in 2015 and Bockermann and Fluggen are be back to defend their gold that they won in November 2015.
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