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Dar Kulaib and Najma in semis

AL NAJMA and Dar Kulaib yesterday recorded easy victories over Al Shabab and Al Ahli, respectively, and qualified for the semi-finals of the Crown Prince Volleyball Cup at the Juffair Youth Centre.

Al Najma outplayed Al Shabab 25-14, 25-16, 25-19, and Dar Kulaib followed suit by beating Al Ahli 25-16, 25-14, 25-12 to book a berth in the last four.

A strong performance, led by veteran captain Hisham Dawood, helped last year's runners-up Al Najma ease past their opponents in a one-hour match to set up their semi-final clash against Busaiteen scheduled for Sunday at the same venue.

Busaiteen earlier produced the tournament's biggest upset by eliminating title-holders Al Nasser in a four-set quarter-final thriller last Wednesday.

Al Najma, who won the title nine times, went into last night's match with high morale and showed confidence against a less experienced Al Shabab who finished sixth overall in the league.

Finishing fourth in the recently-concluded Asian Clubs Championship in Bahrain, Al Najma dominated the match with powerful spikers Fuad Abdulwahed, Ebrahim Nesaif and Mohammed Jaffer scoring crucial points.

Coached by former club and national team captain Isa Al Qattan, Al Najma were also relying on a number of young talents like Saleh Mahdi, Hassan Marhoon, Abbas Al Haiki and Jaffer Abdulnabi.

Al Shabab, on the other hand, were unable to match the strength and experience of Al Najma players and their top players were their Cameroonian duo - Shaly and Jack.

Promising

Majority of the team members in maroon jerseys are aged below 21 years, including Sayed Ali, Ahmed Abdulhussain, Akbar Saeed, Adel Mohammed, Salman Mohammed and Ali Mirza.

Dar Kulaib, who have never won this prestigious title, followed suit with another comfortable win over Al Ahli.

Mohsin bin Sulaiman's side showed spirited play and were barely troubled by their opponents. The most prominent player for Dar Kulaib were the national team trio of Mahmood Hassan Mirza Abdulla and Ayman Haroona as they made key contributions to yesterday's deserving win.

The team also comprised a number of reliable players such as Mahmood Saeed, Hussain Habib, Mohammed Habib and Cameroonian professional Malik Itabi.

Depending on their experienced captain and playmaker Arif Al Aali, Al Ahli tried to catch on their opponents but were unable to dispatch the determined Dar Kulaib.

Among Al Ahli's most prominent players were Hassan Abdulrazzaq, Younis Borouis, Mohammed Madan and Ibrahim Al Haiki.

In their semi-final match to be held on Monday, Dar Kulaib will clash with nine-time champions Muharraq, who earlier outplayed Al Hidd in a straight-set match last Wednesday.

The tournament, being organised for the 31st time, is only open to the eight Premier Division clubs.

The final match is scheduled for June 23, to be followed by the prize-giving ceremony under the patronage of the Crown Prince and Supreme Council for Youth and Sports president Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.



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