IT LOOKED as if Al Rayyan had saved their best for the last. The Lions were in danger of finishing the season empty-handed, but they delivered when it mattered the most to dethrone Al Arabi 25-20, 25-15, 36-34 and regain the prestigious Emir’s Cup last week.
The 82-minute thrilling final at the Qatar Women’s Sport Committee Hall brought down curtains on the domestic season which saw many surprises, including Police winning their maiden Qatar League crown.
The match between the two traditional powerhouses in Qatar volleyball had been billed as the clash of titans and it indeed turned out to be one.
The marathon third set really kept the spectators on the edge of their seats and as Mubarak Dahi Waleed pulled off a spectacular block, the Rayyan camp broke into wild celebrations.
“We were dejected after losing the Super Cup and Qatar Cup finals to Al Arabi. Also, it was disappointing to finish fourth in the league, and third at the Arab Clubs Championship and Gulf Clubs Championship. However, we kept trying and, finally, we landed the most coveted cup. We want to thank the players, fans and club management. We’re really feeling a bit relieved now,” said Rayyan skipper Osman Ajab as he received the trophy and winners’ cheque for QR500,000 from Qatar Olympic Committee Vice-President Sheikh Saud bin Ali Al Thani.
The runners-up had to be content with a purse of QR300,000.
Cuban professional Oreol Camejo, and Serbs Milos Nikic and Dusan Petrovic were in stellar form.
With local player Mubarak also at his best, there was no stopping Rayyan.
The last time Rayyan won the Emir’s Cup was in 2013 and having ended a three-year drought, the relief was palpable on the players’ faces.
“This was a very important season for us. We had too many big events one after the other. We could’ve won the Arab clubs title, GCC clubs title and Qatar Cup. We were really very close to winning each of them. But in the end, we won the Emir’s Cup, so I’m feeling very happy now,” said Mubarak.
Power-packed smashes were the order of the day for Rayyan while service problems, which was their Achilles’ heel in the past, bogged down Arabi this time.
For Rayyan, Bairama Faye proved to be a revelation with his serves.
“This time, we got enough time to prepare a good combination. Also, we got some rest before the final. In the Qatar Cup final which we lost to Arabi, we weren’t ready. We were more motivated this time and, no wonder, the trophy is ours. I’m happy to have contributed my part to the victory,” said Faye.