Thursday, October 15, 2009

Middle East Countdown To World Club Volleyball Championships

Doha, 15 October: The eight best volleyball club teams in the world will be at the Aspire Zone in Doha, between November 3 – 8, to battle it out in the 2009 FIVB Men’s Club World Volleyball Championship, one of the most highly anticipated events in the volleyball calendar. And with just three weeks to go until the first match, the teams are stepping up the pace for their preparations.

Club champions from Italy, Russia, Qatar, Egypt, Poland, Iran, Puerto Rico and Brazil will all be vying for the title, which has returned to volleyball after a 17 year gap.

Said Salim, captain of Qatar’s Doha Al-Arabi, believes the tournament is a great stage for some of the sport’s most talented individuals as well as teams. “This competition will be the focus of our peers and that’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “But that’s what separates the best from the rest; it’s how you cope with that pressure and that’s what will make this such a spectacular event.”

For the Doha side, Salim believes the key to victory is teamwork, and for the past three weeks, his players have been working on the techniques and tactics they will need to beat their first round opponents.

“There’s no doubt about our fitness and we have worked well together as a team. We know each other’s plays and strengths, but when you’re talking about the best club teams in the world, you have to raise your game. We have had three weeks of intensive training and we have three to go. We’re putting absolutely everything we have into this tournament. Every member of the squad is giving 120% commitment.”

Earlier this year, Qatar’s Doha Al Arabi completed a sweep of the nation’s major club titles, having won the Qatar Premier League, Heir Apparent’s Cup and the Emir’s Cup for the 18th time since the championship began in 1979.

Qatar play in the same group as Iranian volleyball champions Payakan, who qualified for the competition as winners of the Asian Club Championship (for the fourth year in a row), where they faced tough competition from Indonesia, Thailand, and Japan, who are 12 places above Iran in
the internationals rankings. The Iranian national league is one of the most competitive in the Middle East. The group also includes Poland’s PGE Skra Belchatow and Cimed from Brazil.

Egypt’s current heroes, Cairo-based Zamalek beat off arch-rivals Ahli to become African Club Champions for the fourth time in their history. They face Trentino Betclic, (Italy) Zenit Kazan (Russia) and Corozal (Puerto Rico) in the Group A, first round fixtures. The return to fitness of Ahmed Awad and Ahmed Refaat will be a great boost to the side.

The Qatar Volleyball Association signed the contract to host the 2009 FIVB Men’s Club World Volleyball Championship in June this year with the full support and backing of the Qatar Olympic Committee.

The six day tournament will be held in the indoor hall that makes up part of the world class sporting facilities of Aspire Zone, host of the 2006 Asian Games.

The competition involves two groups of four teams who will play each other once. The top two will progress to the semi finals and the eventual champions will receive $250,000 out of the total prize money of $750,000.

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