By Yash Mudgal/ Doha
Cherif Younousse guided Qatar to register a come-from-behind victory over Indonesia in their first match of the beach 4x4 volleyball campaign in the ANOC World Beach Games at Al Gharafa Complex yesterday.
With the crowd cheering for home team, Younousse contributed 15 points to emerge the top-scorer of the match as Qatar won 2-1 (16-21, 21-14, 15-4).
“The first match is always difficult. Now we have won it and the butterflies are gone. We are in a tough group having been clubbed with the USA, Germany and Indonesia. We’re relaxed to finish the first match with victory and we’re ready for the next games,” 24-year-old Younousse said after the match.
In the first set, the Indonesians maintained a two-point lead most of the time and later in the second half of the set broke away with an impressive run and closed it off with a big block by defender Ketut Ardana as the hosts were scrappy.
In the second set, the hosts bounced back to clinch it easily, before closing it out in the tie-breaker.
“The Indonesians played the first set very fast and it hardly gave us time to think and come up with the right plan. We just let them play their game but in the second, we started to find our rhythm and went on to pull off the first victory,” Younousse said.
Qatar coach Mariano Baracetti was also pleased with his team’s good beginning in the games.
“It is a very good beginning for us. We knew that Indonesia have good players, good technique and good physical conditions. But we didn’t know about their level as a team,” Baracetti said after the match.
“Of course, we know how to play as a team. Ball by ball, we were trying to find solutions. We knew that Indonesia’s Rendy Licrdo is an important player for them. We neutralised him by serving on him. This move worked well for us and from the second set onwards, we controlled the match and won in three sets.
“Each match is going to be tough. It is a new format and new experience. We’re adjusting and will try to improve in next matches,” the former world champion from Argentina added.
Qatar star Ahmed Tijan had to sit out the match because of a knee injury.
The beach volleyball 4x4 tournament at the Games is a first ever of its kind sanctioned by the FIVB, the sport’s international governing body. The tournament features an eclectic mix of pro players and top-level amateurs from around the world, and for many players, it was their first exposure to the four-player format. With six players per team, 4x4 is played very much like Olympic beach volleyball.
“It was a tough beginning for us. We knew Qatar is a good team but the format is new for both the teams. It takes time to adjust in the 4x4 format. We knew Qatar is an experienced team and they have some very good players. My boys played well in the first set, but later they failed to maintain the momentum. We are confident of good show in the coming matches and hope to perform as per the expectations,” Indonesia coach Bambang Eko Suhartawan said.
Rendy Licrdo was the top scorer for Indonesia with 13 points.
In the huge upset on the first day, USA men’s team, consisting of full-time pros, including beach volleyball veteran and Olympian Casey Patterson, lost 1-2 to German teenagers playing in their first international match. After trading the first two sets, the Germans edged out the USA 15-13 in the decider.
In the other Pool B game, Australia dominated throughout the two sets against Chile and after 33 minutes of play emerged with a 2-0 (21-14, 21-17) victory. Maximillian Guehrer was the top scorer with a total of seven points for them. A very young Poland side registered a 2-0 (23-21, 24-22) victory over Mozambique. The 19-year-old Mikolaj Miszczuk, the oldest player on the Polish squad, led the scorers with 16 points.
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