Al Arabi completed a treble of domestic titles as they won the Qatar Cup yesterday.
At the Qatar Women’s Sports Committee Indoor Hall in Aspire Zone, Al Arabi came on top against arch-rivals Al Rayyan in the two-hour long battle for supremacy, winning 25-21, 21-25, 25-17, 25-22 to pick their third title of the season. Al Arabi had won the Federation Cup and Super Cup at the start of the season.
“It is a very big won for us after a disappointing league and GCC Championship. We played well today except in the second set where we were no match for Al Rayyan,” said Al Arabi coach Patrick Duflos.
This is Arabi’s 11th victory against Al Rayyan in the Qatar Cup finals and first under Duflos.
“I am very happy. We needed something like that and I am sure this win is going act as a catalyst for this squad in the Emir Cup,” the delighted Frenchman said.
Al Arabi took the keenly contested first set at 25-21, while the second set again turned out to be a see saw battle which Al Rayyan won by an identical score. However, Al Arabi bounced back to win the third and fourth to pocket the title. For Arabi, it has been a roller-coaster season so far. After the highs of the twin titles, they suffered a loss in form and could only finish third in the league and a dismal fifth in the GCC Clubs Championship.
No wonder, there was a big shake-up within the team for the Qatar Cup as they brought in two professionals — America’s outside hitter Taylor Sander and Germany’s star spiker Gyorgy Grozer.
“It is a big victory for us, although we did not play that well. The second set was a strange one, somehow nothing was going our way. I also played bad in the set, but we bounced back in the subsequent ones to win the title,” said Sander, who was member of the bronze medal winner US team of the Rio Olympics.
In the first, the initial proceedings saw both teams neck-and- neck until Arabi broke free to take a two point lead at 9-7. But Al Rayyan fought back to tie the score at 11-all.
Al Arabi, however, once took the upper hand to take a 14-11 lead. Thereafter, Duflos’ side held the grip over the rallies and maintained a consistent two-point lead which they carried to the end to win the first set.
In the second set, Al Rayyan were determined to bounce back and took a runaway lead at 8- 3. Al Arabi, however, made a splendid recovery to tie the score at 11-all. From thereon, fortunes fluctuated with Al Rayyan having an upper hand for a brief period only to surrender the initiative to their rivals. In the end Al Rayyan pocketed the second set at 25-21. In the third, Al Arabi determined to finish off proceedings, took a five point lead at 8-3.
Al Rayyan clawed back to narrow the lead at 12-9. Al Arabi put up an all round display to increase their lead to seven points at 23-16.
Arabi then took the next two points to wrap the third at 25-17. Arabi continued where from they left off in the fourth set, taking an early 5-3 lead in the fifth.
The defending champions had other thoughts as they came back strongly to tie the score at eight-all. From that stage the both teams fought hard for each point with the scores tied at 11-all, 14-all, until Al Arabi broke free to make it 15-13 and extended the lead to three points at 17-14.
Carlos Schwanke’s side tried to make a fight and took a timeout with score reading 20-18 to stop their rivals in their tracks. However, Al Arabi were in no mood to allow any room to heir rivals. In the end, Al Arabi won 25-22 to win the title for 16th time and set off wild celebrations among their supporters.
Al Arabi players pose with volleyball officials after winning the Qatar Cup title yesterday.