Cherif and Ahmed overcome challenges to top Pool C

Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan were pushed hard in both of their Friday matches in Cape Town, but the Qataris powered through them to make it to the quarterfinals of this week’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in South Africa as one of the four pool winners.

Seven other teams from six different countries also made it to the quarterfinals, which will open Saturday's schedule at the Grand Parade. The semifinals will also be played on Saturday while the medal matches will take place on Sunday.

In the quarterfinals, the Qataris will face Austrians Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz. The other three matchups will see Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum playing against French pair Arthur Canet and Téo Rotar, Italians Paolo Nicolai and Samuele Cottafava meeting Austrians Robin Seidl and Philipp Waller and Dutch team Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen competing with Swedish duo David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig.

The 27-year-old Cherif and Ahmed were made to sweat by younger teams on Friday. In the morning, the two faced reigning European champions Ahman, 20, and Hellvig, 21, who entered the tournament fresh from their victory in last week’s Dubai Challenge, and prevailed in two sets (21-19, 21-19) by a tiny margin.

“To play against the Swedish you always need a lot of energy and focus from start to finish,” Cherif commented. “They’re a tough team because they jump set and play fast, but our strategy worked really well and it was good to get another win against them.”

In the last match of the day, Cherif and Ahmed were pushed to three sets (23-25, 21-14, 15-11), but managed to defeat the 22-year-old English Bello twins Joaquin and Javier to confirm the top spot in Pool C with three victories in as many matches.

As Cherif was born in Senegal and Ahmed in Gambia, the two understand the positive impact the first Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event held in Africa could make on the sport on the continent.

“This event is a great first step to promote beach volleyball in Africa,” Cherif added. “Unfortunately, we don’t see a lot of African teams competing on the Beach Pro Tour, so hopefully an event like this motivates the countries here to invest in beach volleyball. Africa has a lot of potential to be great in the sport and with a little help I’m confident it can get to a really high level.

Source: Qatar Olympic Committee

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