Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan went down fighting to reigning world champions from Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy, 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) in the men’s beach volleyball semi-final at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
The World No 1 Qatari pair are still in contention for a bronze medal as they face off against Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs, the other losing semi-finalists tomorrow.
At the Shiokaze Park, in the keenly-fought first set, the Russian duo took a 15-13 lead, but the Qatari pair came strongly to level it at 15-15 and maintained it till 17-17. However, Krasilnikov’s accurate smashes and Stoyanovskiy’s strong presence at the net saw them through the difficult phase.
In the second set, Younousse and Ahmed managed to recover from a three-point deficit and work out a two-point lead, but Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy stayed focused to grab a narrow edge.
After 11-11 in the second set, the Europeans took the lead and kept the pressure on to increase the gap until Stoyanovskiy closed it off at 21-17 with a superb block.
“We are in the final of the Olympic Games! I’ve dreamed about this since we started playing together as a team,” said Stoyanovskiy after the game.
“We are really grateful and happy that we won today. The guys from Qatar were on fire. This year they played five or six finals and they are the world ranking leaders right now. We know they play really well. We lost to them in our last match, but we know that we are also one of the strongest teams in the world and we proved it in this tournament. We had a bad start in the pool, but then we improved from game to game and it gave us confidence for this match.
“Norway has also been one of the strongest teams over the last two or three years. They play really well and I hope the final is going to be a great game. We’ll try to enjoy it.”
“This is my goal, this is my dream. We have one more match ahead of us. Oleg and I will do everything to win that game, but for me what we have done so far is already an accomplishment,” said Krasilnikov.
Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy will take on Norway’s Christian Sorum and Anders Mol, who defeated Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) to make it to the final.
The final will be played on Saturday.
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