By Yash Mudgal/Doha
Can El Jaish upset the eight-time champions Al Rayyan’s applecart at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena today?
(From left) El Jaish’s representative Khalid al-Kaabi, Qatar Volleyball Association (QVA) executive director Ahmed al-Shabani, Al Rayyan’s representative Nasser al-Malki and QVA’s Dr Ali Mustafa Taha at a press conference yesterday.
The armymen are on a roll, having already defeated defending champions and newly-crowned Qatar Volleyball League champions Al Arabi 2-1 in the semi-final playoff of the Qatar Cup on Tuesday, and are raring to win their second trophy of the season.
El Jaish had earlier won the season-opening Federation Cup, also defeating Al Arabi.
But, Rayyan captain Osman Ajab says his side has won the title eight out of 20 times, and is capable and confident of winning the final regardless of the opposition’s form.
“It will be another big game. We are used to the situation and I think all the pressure will be on them. We like to finish the final in straight sets,” Ajab told Gulf Times yesterday.
He also said the mood in the Rayyan camp, after defeating Police in the playoff 2-0, is good ahead of the final.
“I am sure they won’t take us lightly, but they will come at us. And we are relaxed and ready for that,” he said.
Talking about Jaish’s victory over Arabi, he said: “They played well against Arabi, but in my opinion Arabi lost because they have a problem in their reception, while in our case we have the best reception in the tournament.”
Ajab’s teammate Zbigniev Bartman also sounded confident as he said: “I am expecting a tough game. I saw their game against Arabi, they are playing well. They have two fine Cuban players in their side, but I hope we will put a good show tomorrow and win the Cup.”
Polish star Bartmann, who joined Croatian coach Igor Arbutina’s side as their professional player for the tournament, was all praise for the club.
“I am enjoying my time at Rayyan Club. The atmosphere is amazing and I am getting all the support needed here from my club,” he said.
This is the second final for Jaish, who had lost to Al Arabi in the 2013-14 season, when the competition’s name was changed from the Heir Apparent Cup to the Qatar Cup.
If coach Zuhair Belhaj’s boys have to repeat the trick they performed against the 15-time winners Arabi today, their professional Cuban players Oreol Camejo and Robertlandy Simon have to be in their best form.
The 28-year-old middle blocker Simon scored 28 points, while the 29-year-old receiver Camejo scored 22 in their win against Arabi in the playoff.
“We had done our homework well. I think we have fantastic guys and all played like a strong family. People think that we’ve nothing. But we showed what we can do. This made our big victory possible,” Simon said, while talking about the playoff win against Arabi.
Simon played for the Cuban national team for five years and was a silver medallist in the 2010 World Championships. He also bagged the bronze medal in the 2005 World League.
“If we continue to play the way we played against Arabi, we can win any match. We’ll try to win against Rayyan as well. Al Rayyan is a very good side. We’ll have to do our best again and we’ll try to do it,” the former Cuban captain said.
The winners will get QR300,000, while the runners-up will be richer by QR150,000.
Semi-final playoff (best-of-three)
Al Rayyan bt Police 2-0
El Jaish beat Al Arabi Club 2-1
Final: Al Rayyan vs El Jaish at Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena (6:30pm)
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