Doha, Qatar, April 21, 2016 – Volleyball fans are certainly in for a hot and sumptuous treat as Qatar’s top teams line up stars in a bid to have glory of the major events.
With the QVA League having been already claimed by mighty Al Arabi after stunning title-holders Al Rayyan Club, only two more major events are left in the domestic season now – the Qatar Cup and Emir’s Cup.
While the Qatar Cup, involving the top four finishers of the League, is due to begin on Friday, the Emir’s Cup, a premier event, is scheduled to commence on April 30 at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena.
According to the confirmed reports, Al Arabi, which have also won the Super Cup against last season’s League winners Al Rayyan, have signed up Italian national team player Ivan Zaytsev and Brazilian professional Yoandry Leal Hidalgo.
Al Arabi’s arch rivals Al Rayyan have paired Russian star Dmitriy Ilinykh with Polish Zbigniev Bartman. Police have got the services of Silmar Antonio de Almeida and Williams Pedura Diaz, while El Jaish have roped in Robertlandy Simon and Oreol Camejo.
Al Arabi’s Zaytsev is a 202-cm tall opposite player, who smash the ball at 355cm height and block the rivals at 348cm. Having Russian origins, he was in the Italian team which took bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. In 2011 and 2013, the VC Dynamo Moscow player won the European Championships silver medals. He also has got the 2013 World League bronze medal to his name aside from the Italian Championship gold medal in 2014.
Hidalgo was originally Cuban national team player for four years. With the Cuban team failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics after losing the qualifying finals to Germany, he was declared the best spiker and server of the event. After bagging the 2010 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship silver medal, he moved to Brazil in a bid to pursue his Olympic dream. The Sada Cruzeiro wing spiker is now a naturalized Brazilian player and may figure in the Rio Olympics in August.
Al Rayyan had fielded Ilinykh during the League but he suffered a leg injury during a crucial match against Al Arabi, which was 19th and penultimate game, and had to leave the court. And Al Rayyan, despite winning the opening set, went on to lose the match or the League might have seen an exciting finale.
Ilinykh was part of the Russia’s London Olympic Games gold medal-winning side. There is no doubt that Ilinykh is big draw here, considering his achievements. The Belogorie Belogorod wing spiker also helped the national team win the 2013 World League and European Championship. He is also the 2014 Champions League winner.
A former beach volleyball player, Bartman is another sizzling wing smasher, who plays for French club Stade Poitevin Poitiers. He can fire smashes at an imposing height of 363cm. He has also got a plenty of accolades to his name – 2009 European and 2011 World League champion, 2011 World Cup silver medal, 2011 World League bronze medal and 2013 Polish champion. He also figured in the 2012 London Games.
The 29-year-old pointer Almeida has mostly played in Brazil. For one season each, he also participated for the Japanese, Italian and Romanian teams. The 203-cm tall Ziober Maringa player has been a silver medallist in the 2005 FIVB Men’s Under-21 World Championship in India.
Cuban player Diaz also featured in the QVA League for Police and has been their top scorer. He helped Police finish third and is expected to reinforce the Police team, which have got good defence.
El Jaish’s Simon and Camejo were rivals in the South Korean Championships but now they are team-mates with a common goal of assisting El Jaish in denting the domination by Al Arabi and Al Rayyan.
Hidalgo’s Sada Cruzeiro team-mate Simon is a 6-ft and 9-inch giant from Cuba and operates from the middle of the court mainly. With a spiking ability from 384cm, Simon can foil the opponents at a height of 326cm as well. His coach says he smashed the ball at a record height of 389cm.
During the Korean League finals, Simon took his team Rush & Cash to the title, while Camejo’s Hyundai Skywalkers had to be satisfied with the runners-up finish.
The best middle blocker of the world, Simon played for the Cuban national team for five years and was a silver medallist in the 2010 World Championship. He also bagged the bronze medal in the 2005 World League.
For one season, he played for Al Rayyan and helped them finish runners-up in the FIVB Men’s Club World Championship in 2014. In 2009, he was adjudged the best blocker and spiker in the World League. In the following year, he won the best blocker honours in the World Championship. In the 2014 World Club Championship, he earned the best middle blocker award as well.