DUBAI: The semi-finals of the Volleyball Championship at the 10th Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament will take place on Saturday following another round of exciting clashes on the courts.
Held under the theme ‘Limitless Abilities’ and organized by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the NAS Sports Tournament is the biggest event of its kind in terms of participation and prize money, and has been held every year in the Holy Month of Ramadan since 2013 at the iconic Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex.
In the final round match of Group B, Al Habtoor Motors defeated Al Khalidiya 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-14) in more than an hour. Al Habtoor Motors dominated the proceedings from the beginning and maintained their upper hand throughout the match. Al Khalidiya showed some signs of making a comeback, but they soon faded.
In another Group B match, Zabeel defeated last year's runner-up, Al Jawareh, 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-17).
At the end of this round, Zabeel grabbed the top spot in Group B with seven points. Al Jawareh dropped to second place with six points on goal difference behind Al Habtoor Motors, while Khalidiya finished last without points.
Defending champions Emperor will face Al Jawareh in the first semi-final, which kicks off at 9:30pm. In the second semi-final, Group B leaders Zabeel and Fahood Zabeel will lock horns. The match will begin at 11:30pm.
The four teams that finished on top are guaranteed their qualification to participate in the next edition of the Volleyball Championship after the organizing committee decided to grant them automatic berths for 2024.
Jassim Mohammed, head of the Emperor and Al-Jawareh teams, praised the decision of the organizing committee to grant the top four holders a direct qualification card in the next edition, noting that this decision gives these teams the opportunity to prepare early and sign international players from now, especially since the 2024 edition comes at the peak of the activity of the international leagues.
'We appreciate the organizing committee's decision, which aims to grow the competition because participation in previous years was based on priority of registration, which left some teams out. However, with this new process, we can begin assembling a team and adding top-class players to the squad.
'The new decision serves the tournament technically because it helps the four teams attract great players and coaches and prepare themselves in the best possible way,' he added.
Saif Al Jabri, head of the Fahood Zabeel and Zabeel teams, hailed His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, for his unwavering support and the exceptional rise of the NAS Sports Tournamen, which attracts top international players for a multi-game sports event.
Jabri revealed that his teams trained professionally and in a camp outside of the country to prepare better than in previous seasons. He added that coordination started to form the team at the beginning of the year by keeping track of local and international league matches in order to choose and recruit the top players, with the aim of enhancing Zabeel's accomplishments.
'What distinguishes the NAS Volleyball Championship for the tenth year is the clear challenge from the participating teams to attract the best players, knowing that each team includes 14 professional players.
'I would like to thank ENOC Group CEO Saif Humaid Al Falasi for their unlimited support for the two teams, and the thanks go to the organizing committee for their high flexibility and professionalism in handling all the arrangements,' he added.
Falasi said: 'We are delighted to support Fahood Zabeel and the Zabeel volleyball teams as a part of our wise leadership's vision to support and develop the sports sector, and based on our role as a national company that supports the local community in Dubai and the UAE.
'It supports our belief in the significance of encouraging and nurturing local talent, empowering youth and individuals, and creating conditions that allow them to participate effectively.'
The French footballer Mamadou Sakho also visited the NAS Sports Tournament and watched international Padel Championship and volleyball matches.
The Montpellier star, who last year hosted a charitable initiative through his organization, the Amsak International Foundation, in collaboration with the Dubai Sports Council and in partnership with Noor Dubai, was left impressed with the facilities at the NAS Sports Complex.
Sakho said: It’s a really nice tournament with a high level of competition. And the facilities are amazing.'
In Group A matches of the championship, the UAE national team lost 2-1 to Qatar while Japan defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1.
Egypt maintained their perfect start in Group B and registered their third consecutive victory after brushing aside Bahrain 3-0. The Kuwaitis staged a brilliant rally to overcome Iran 2-1.