QATAR CROWNED 2024 AVC CHALLENGE CUP CHAMPIONS, SECURE FIVB CHALLENGER CUP BERTH

QATAR CROWNED 2024 AVC CHALLENGE CUP CHAMPIONS, SECURE FIVB CHALLENGER CUP BERTH

Isa Town, Bahrain, June 9, 2024 – Mighty Qatar stamped their domination over the 2024 AVC Challenge Cup after demolishing Pakistan in an electrifying final showdown which wrapped up an exciting week of topflight competition at the Isa Town Sport City Hall C here on Sunday.

The exceptional 25-22, 25-20, 25-19 victory in front of approximately 2,500 spectators inside the venue handed debutants Qatar their unprecedented title in this toplight tournament and the lone berth up for grabs in the 2024 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup in Linyi, China between July 4 and 7, which serves as the last qualification for the revamped Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2025, expanding to 18 teams.

 

Qatar had already picked up silver at the 2023 FIVB Challenger Cup on home soil in Doha and will now join the fray in the 2024 edition together with hosts China for the second year running.

World No.47 Pakistan, which captured the recent CAVA Nations League last month in Islamabad, stormed into the showdown undefeated as they brushed off Kazakhstan 3-0 and Thailand 3-0 in the pool round-robin preliminaries to top Pool B. The Pakistani team continued their unbeaten streak after beating Vietnam in nail-biting 3-2 quarterfinal clash and outplaying Korea 3-1 in the semi-finals. 

Qatar had a disappointing outing with 2-3 loss in their campaign opener against Korea, but bounced back to win three successive matches against Indonesia in Pool C, China in the quarterfinals and Kazakhstan in the semifinals with scores of 3-0, 3-0 and 3-1 respectively.

Qatar, which had already beaten Pakistan 3-1  in the quarterfinals of the rescheduled 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games last year, took the hard-fought first set 25-22, courtesy of their splendid offensive system orchestrated by outside hitter Youssef Oughlaf, middle blockers Mohamed Ibrahim Ibrahim and Belal Nabel Abunabot.

 

Inspired by the victory, Pakistan bounced back in the second set, but although they put up a gallant fight, their offensive mobility was limited by the Qatar’s solid block efforts led by Abunabot and Borislav Georgiev. Qatar clinched to second set 25-20.

 

Conceding two sets in a row, Pakistan, spearheaded by Murad Khan and Murad Jehan, hit back in the third set, hoping for a comeback. However, their determined effort was denied as the hefty Qataris stayed in control. Almal Khan fired a sharp spike to help Pakistan trail close 18-23, but a service error from Muhammad Hamad handed Qatar the match point 24-18. The Qataris allowed the rivals one more point from Musawer Khan’s lightning fast spike before Ibrahim Ibrahim ended the rivals’ challenge with his powerful attack at the frontline. Qatar captured the set 25-19, match and the eventual title.

Youssef Oughlaf chipped in with 16 points from 13 kills, 2 blocks and one ace for Qatar, while Mohamed Ibrahim Ibrahim and Belal Nabel Abunabot contributed 11 and 10 points respectively. Murad Khan led Pakistan with 10 points, all from attacks.

In the third-place playoff clash earlier, Korea, which claimed bronze medal in the previous edition last year, maintained their third place as they struggled hard to beat Kazakhstan 3-1 (27-25, 19-25, 27-25, 32-30).

The match turned out to be a tightly-fought affair from the opening serve. After the Koreans eked ahead 2-1, they were on the verge of closing out the game in the fourth set, but Kazakhstan saved a number of match points to extend the thrilling battle. Kazakhstan setter Niyaz Nurgazin was then called for a net fault, breaking a 30-all deadlock, allowing the Koreans to finally seal the match and a podium finish with an ace serve, delivered by skipper Hwang Taekeui.

Left-hander opposite Shin Hojin delivered 21 points from 19 kills and 2 blocks for Korea, while Kim Jihan and Jeong Hanyong kept good company to contribute 19 and 11 points respectively.

Petr Churzin scored a match-high 23 points from 21 kills, one block and one ace on the Kazakhstan’s loss.

With their performance visible in the match stats, Kazakhstan seemingly. dominated in all elements including kills (65 to 63), blocks (10 to 7) and aces (5 to 3), but the opponent errors made the difference. Korea got the most opponent errors, prevailing in that category by 32 to 25.

     

The top three teams were given their respective trophies and medals in the awards presentation and closing ceremony. General Sports Authority (GSA) Deputy Chairman Shaikh Salman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, GSA Chief Executive Dr Abdulrahman Askar, Bahrain Olympic Committee (BOC) BoardMember and Bahrain Table Tennis Association President Shaikha Hayat bint Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, and Bahrain Volleyball Association (BVA) President Shaikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa attended the ceremony to present the prizes.

Also in attendance were BVA Secretary General and Tournament Director Feras Al Helwachi and Control Committee Chairman Mr Emile Jabbour, along with high-ranking officials from BVA, AVC, and national volleyball federations from across Asia.

Among the individual awards handed out in the ceremony, Qatar’s outside hitter Renan Ribeiro landed the Most Valuable Player Award.

Thailand emerged triumphant at the last year’s episode in Chinese Taipei, with Bahrain securing the second place. Bahrain hosted the AVC Challenge Cup for Men for the first time this year and it was held under the patronage of Supreme Council for Youth and Sport first deputy chairman, GSA chairman, and BOC president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

   

POOL 1-4 RESULTS AND RANKING

FINAL RANKING

 

CHAMPIONS: Qatar

SILVER: Pakistan

BRONZE: Korea

IINDIVIDUAL AWARDS

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