Doha, Qatar, August 3, 2016 – Qatar beach volleyball team coach Pedro Paulo Costa and his pair of Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younnouse are eagerly waiting for the start of the men’s competition in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the majestic Copacabana Beach on August 6.
After facing numerous ups and downs, including a change of partner, the 27-year-old Pereira finally settled with younger teammate Younnouse. In just about one year and a half, the two pooled in their talent and helped Qatar grab a spot in the prestigious Olympics beach volleyball, by topping the Continental Championship in Australia in June.
For both Pereira and Younnouse, to be into the Olympic Games is a dream come true. But for the former, it is an apt reward for putting in a plenty of efforts and staying positive. Playing in a kind of home Olympics can be another motivating factor for Pereira, a native of Rio.
Pereira started playing with Thiago Santos. The two won titles and shone well at the regional level. Unfortunately, Santos had a leg injury during the 2014 Qatar Open and left for Brazil. Then Younnouse was tested by coach Costa and the duo soon began to gel well.
Provided with playing opportunities on the FIVB World Tour by the Qatar Volleyball Association, the two flowered into a force to be reckoned with. They began the 2016 season with a bang and claimed the Kish Island crown in Iran in February, an event on the Open tour.
Later when it was clear that Qatar’s best chance of going into the Olympic Games is through the Continental Championship, Pereira and Younnouse displayed a disciplined and determined show and clinched the coveted spot for Qatar, beating the Chinese rivals in the final.
Pereira and Younnouse will launch their campaign with a match against sixth seeds Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson of the US on August 6.
Quite experienced as they have been playing together since April 2013, the Americans have two Grand Slam titles to their credit and are favourites to top the Pool F.
In their second match on August 8, the Qataris face Spanish rivals Pablo Herrera Allepuz and Adrian Gavira Collado, the world-ranked 10th currently. This will be followed by a clash against Austrian Alexander Huber and Robin Seidl, the runners up in the 2016 Qatar Open to Italians Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula, on August 10.
The Qatari team arrived in Rio much before the Olympic Games in a bid to get acclimatized. Coach Costa sounded satisfied with the preps and said while talking to the Qatar Tribune Newspaper from Rio, “The acclimatization has been very good for us. We have a time difference of less than six hours and the players have adapted to the food and the weather here”.
“We have been practicing at the beach during the morning and gym in the afternoon. Sometimes we are practicing also in the afternoon at the beach. But our staff is always monitoring their performance and fatigue.”
“Pereira and Younnouse have played friendly matches with other competitors as well. “We are often practicing with other pairs, mainly the Brazilians. We had a very nice practice games with Evandro and Pedro from Brazil. Now,we have moved to the Copacabana Beach, the beach volleyball venue during the Olympics.”
Costa said his players have grabbed a slice of history by qualifying for the Olympic Games. “We made history. Olympics are the top event for any team. We reached it and now we hope that the country and our board members face it as we face”.
“I just do hope that the QVA keeps supporting us in all aspects because we have set the tone and I’m already thinking about 2020 when we have more chances of qualification than what we had now,” added Costa.
About his hopes in the group matches, Costa said, “I always divide this kind of competitions in three events – the groups phase is the first one and our target is to go through. We can qualify if the players have a cool mind”.
“During the knockout phase, we’ll go match by match. Once we reach, we have chances to advance. The finals are the third tournament that I will only think about when I’m in.”
“Our group is hard. The men’s tournament has always high level. For sure, we will have three hard matches but we can be more dangerous for other teams because we have nothing to lose. In theory, the sixth-ranked team Gibb/Patterson (USA) is the favourite, followed by the Spanish Herrera/Gavira. But we are here to change the theory,” Costa said with a laugh.
“The other team of Huber/Seidl (Austria) is in the same situation as we are. They have been in an excellent form during the last tournaments. I’m satisfied with the team and I believe we can make it,” the coach added.
Costa wants Qatar and its sports lovers to back the team and urged: “I wish that the whole country will follow and support us. We want to thank our federation and the Qatar Olympic Committee for all the help and support to the team.”