28.06.2019 - Hamburg
Talk about doing things the hard way. Qatari boys Ahmed Tijan and Younousse Cherif showed for the second day running that they’re made of strong stuff as they battled back from losing the first set once more to record their second World Championship victory in two days.
On Friday the pair lost the opening set to Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi but stormed back to win and on Saturday the duo went one step further, finding themselves 13-9 down in the third set before staging a remarkable comeback to defeat Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner.
It was even more remarkable given that Tijan suffered concussion in their game on Friday following a concussion with his teammate in the win over the Italians.
“It’s been unbelievable,” said defender Tijan. “I said to Cherif ‘hey, we’ve just got to keep going, let’s stay calm, let’s keep siding out and hope that our defense works sooner or later. We had to be patient and in the end in came.
“They played really well, and we were just thinking ‘well, if we lose, we lose’, we congratulate them and move on. But we kept pushing and pushing and finally it dropped our way.”
Tijan admitted he was only at 85 per cent against the Czechs after yesterday’s concerning injury against Carambula and Rossi.
“I’m feeling a bit better but I’m not 100 per cent there,” admitted the 24-year-old. “The doctors were really helpful after yesterday and helped me recover for today.
“The game against the Italians was unbelievable – honestly. I don’t believe that I won that game. I was playing blindly. I didn’t know what was going on. There was a worry I couldn’t play on but I just kept going. I don’t know how we did it, I was just playing blind, just playing volleyball.”
Their opening match on Friday was meant to be against the team from Sierra Leone but sadly the African pair could not get to Hamburg to compete.
That meant Pool D became one of the toughest groups in the whole competition with the Italians taking the Sierra Leone spot in the group.
But Tijan believes that last-minute change has helped the Qataris – and could for the rest of the tournament.
“Sometimes you want to start a tournament from the hardest point,” he said. “We were due to start against the Sierra Leone team which would have been an easier match. But we said to each other ‘it’s ok, we’ll go for the hardest first, let’s treat it like a qualification match’ – and that’s what happened.”
The pair now, thankfully, have a day off to rest and recuperate before their pool finale against Belgians Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle on Monday.