The men’s teams that claimed bronze medals in the last two editions of the Olympic Games will play for gold in the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 event in Rosarito, Mexico, on Sunday.
Qataris and Dutch to play for Rosarito gold
World ranking leaders Cherif and Ahmed will be challenged by Olympic medallists Brouwer and Meeuwsen
published_tag 05:48, 27 Mar 2022
Qataris Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan, who stepped on the podium in last year’s Tokyo Olympics, and Dutch Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, who did the same five years earlier in the Rio Games, will play in the final of the men’s tournament at the Rosarito Beach at 14.15 local time. Poland’s Michal Bryl/Bartosz Losiak and Norway’s Anders Mol/Christian Sorum will meet for bronze at 11.30.
Qataris and Dutch have met six times in international events since 2018 and Brouwer and Meeuwsen have emerged victorious on four occasions, including the most recent one, in last year’s FIVB World Tour Finals. It will be the first time the teams are opponents in a gold medal match.
The teams arrived in the final through different paths as while the 32-year-old Brouwer and the 34-year-old Meeuwsen remain undefeated after their first five matches in Rosarito, the 26-year-old Cherif and Ahmed have kept themselves in contention for gold despite having lost a pool play match on Friday.
The brackets of the elimination round granted the world ranking leaders an opportunity to avenge their pool play setback on Saturday, when they met Bryl and Losiak again in the semifinals. The Qataris didn’t waste it, booking their places in the gold medal match with a straight-set (21-17, 21-15) victory over the Polish.
“They beat us on pool play because they were playing better and we knew we had to change something and we decided to be more aggressive,” Cherif reflected. “In the semifinals, you either give it all and win or give nothing and go play for bronze, but we certainly didn’t want that. We were down in the first set but recovered with Ahmed’s great defence. We kept that same level during the entire second set and that was the key for us.”
Earlier, the world ranking leaders, who won the third event of the FIVB World Tour Cancun Hub last year, took Czechs Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner down in three sets (21-18, 16-21, 15-12) in the quarterfinals.
“We’re very happy to be in the final here in Mexico again,” the two-time Olympian blocker added. “We’re hoping it’s going to be a good match for us.”
Brouwer and Meeuwsen advanced to their 15th international gold medal match as partners on a remarkable day, in which they defeated three Olympic champions. The first of them was Brazilian Alison Cerutti, a Rio 2016 gold medallist, who alongside partner Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes was unable to stop the Dutch, who won their quarterfinal encounter in two sets (21-15, 21-15).
In the semifinals, the 2013 world champions handed Tokyo Olympic gold medallists Mol and Sorum a 2-1 (17-21, 21-13, 15-12) win and secured their place on Sunday’s final.
“It was our second game against them and knew they were going to change some things, which they did,” Meeuwsen said about the match against the Norwegians. “But I think we found a really good answer for their tactics and remained really calm. I’m really happy about how we managed to end the match.”
The result has not only improved their record against the Beach Volley Vikings to nine wins and six losses, but also became the first team to beat the Norwegians twice in an international beach volleyball tournament.
“I was struggling with my side out at the beginning and that’s also because of the pressure they put on their opponents,” Brouwer added. “We got the couple of points to win the third set at the end and it’s great to see that when we get things going, we can play against any team in the world. To beat the Vikings twice in the same tournament, that’s amazing.”