Doha, Qatar, December 15, 2010 – Hosts Al Arabi Doha opened their campaign here at the 2010 FIVB Club World Championships on a high note as they won the last match on Day 1 by edging out African champions Al Ahly of Egypt in four sets (25-17, 25-27, 25-17, 25-20).
The Qataris were especially impressive in the third and fourth sets as they secured a victory built on their greater efficiency in both serving – they recorded 10 aces to Al Ahly's five – and blocking (10-5 too). The game's top scorer was the home team's German import, Christian Pampel, a veteran of the Italian league, with 25 points.
This much-anticipated 'derby' between Al Arabi Doha and the North Africans of Al Ahly began in the late afternoon in front of a decent-sized crowd which included not just local fans but also a fair few supporters of the team from Cairo. There were Egyptian flags waved regularly throughout the contest as the visitors looked to respond to the drum-beating Qataris.
Although Al Ahly enjoyed a good start, Adel Mohmed's team turned things around and – to the delight of many in the VIP stands – sealed the opening set by a convincing margin (25-17). The second set was a closer-run affair. There was little between the teams throughout and a tense finish ensued after Al Ahly failed to exploit a two-point lead and the Qataris tied at 23-all with a splendid diagonal spike by Pampel. The Egyptians responded to claim a set ball but Hossam Abdalla served into the net.
A second opportunity followed as Bakhet Ahmed's pipe was blocked but Pampel came to the rescue. However, it was third time lucky for Al Ahly as Mohamed Jumah missed from a tricky position and this time the Egyptians took their chance, profiting from a lack of coordination on the Qatari side.
After that dramatic finish to the second set, Al Ahly looked low on fuel as Al Arabi got off to a flying start in the third, moving 8-1 in front. The Egyptians' receiving was particularly poor and the Doha team stretched the gap to 16-7. With Pampel spiking with great consistency, Al Arabi wrapped up the set when Ahmed Mohamed committed a violation by hitting the antenna.
It was a similar story in the fourth set with the Egyptians' coach, Ibrahim Fakhreldin, calling an early timeout after his side fell 5-2 behind. That effected little change and an ace by local 'matador' Pampel paved the way for an 8-4 lead at the First Technical Timeout (FTT). Fired on by their home fans, Al Arabi did not let the tempo drop and– after two missed match balls – the hosts claimed the last point of the contest with an attack by Ahmed.