Bahrain spikers power past Nepal
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Bahrain enjoyed a resounding start to their medal bid yesterday in the men’s volleyball tournament at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
The Kingdom’s senior men’s national team battled back from a set down to defeat their counterparts from Nepal 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-15).
The game was both teams’ first of two fixtures apiece in Pool B, and the Bahrainis took one step forward towards securing a berth in the next phase with the result.
Superstar outside hitter Mohammed Yaqoob was in impressive form for Bahrain, finishing with a game-high 23 points, 17 of which came in attack and with three service winners.
Skipper Naser Anan and opposite spiker Ali Ebrahim also had major contributions, finishing with 14 points apiece, while middle blocker Abbas Al Khabbaz finished with 13 points.
Middle blocker Mohammed Jassim chipped in with nine in the win, while setter Mahmood Alafyah, who played a key role in their comeback, had four to round off the national team’s scorers. Yaqoob, Al Khabbaz and Jassim all had three blocks in the game to anchor Bahrain’s defence.
Nepal’s Tek Raj Awasthi had 14 points as his side’s lone player to score in double figures. After giving up the first set, the Bahrainis mounted their comeback right off the bat in set two. They rallied from a 5-all deadlock to take a commanding 18-12 lead and held on to level the contest.
Nepal stayed within striking distance for much of the third, but the nationals were able to build a cushion before an Anan attack closed the frame out for the 2-1 advantage.
The Bahrainis then sealed the victory with a fine showing in set four led by Alafyah, with Anan providing the final blow to end the match.
Bahrain have a rest day today but return to the court tomorrow when they take on Pool B favourites Iran. That game is scheduled for a 9.30am start, Bahrain time. The Iranians will take on the Nepalese today.
Alafyah expressed his delight with their victory against Nepal. He commented: “Our coach was able to keep us calm and focused after losing the first set, which contributed greatly to our victory.
It was a turning point in our performance and we were able to get a good outcome to the match.” Alafyah added that the Bahrainis will give their all to win against Iran tomorrow in order to top their group and ensure qualification.
The nationals, guided by Ruben Adrian Wolochin from Argentina, have a 12-player squad in Hangzhou. Aside from Yaqoob, Anan, Ebrahim, Al Khabbaz, Jassim and Alafyah, the team includes Ayman Haroona, Abbas Sultan, Ali Habib, Hussain Mahdi, Hussain Ehsan and Sayed Hashem Issa.
There are six groups in the preliminary round for men’s volleyball.
Pool A includes China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan; Pool C features South Korea, India and Cambodia; Pool D consists of Chinese-Taipei, Pakistan and Mongolia; Pool E includes Qatar, Thailand and Hong Kong; and Pool F features Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Afghanistan.
The top two teams from each of the six pools move on to the Round of 12, where a unique format will be followed.
There, the victors of the match between the Pool A winners and Pool F runners-up, as well as the victors of the game between the Pool B winners and Pool E runners-up, get a bye in the quarter-finals and go directly to the semis.
The other winners in the Round of 12 will compete in the quarters for the remaining two berths in the last four.
Bahrain players and coaching staff celebrate after their victory
The director of the Nepalese delegation to the Hangzhou Asian Games presented a souvenir to the Bahraini delegation following Bahrain’s match with Nepal in men’s volleyball. The token was received by Chef de Mission Ahmed Abdulghaffar in the presence of other officials. The initiative comes in light of the strong relations between the Bahrain Olympic Committee and its counterparts from across Asia. Above, Abdulghaffar, third from left, with the souvenir.