Vienna, Austria, August 1, 2017 – In 2015, Qatar surprised the beach volleyball world by finishing fifth on its first-ever FIVB World Championships appearance, in the Netherlands. Two years later, the Asian team seem to be poised for another surprising campaign as Jefferson Pereira and Cherif Younousse topped the Pool B after a convincing 2-0 win over second-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins in Vienna.
The Qatari duo has showed impressive progress since its historic performance in the Netherlands, finishing ninth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and winning their first-ever gold medal in the FIVB World Tour in Kish Island also last year.
“I believe we can repeat what we did in the Netherlands and, why not, even get further,” Jefferson said. “We did well in the pool round and Cherif really enjoys playing these big tournaments. He connects really well with the supporters and plays with happiness and the fans here have been amazing so far. We are more confident after what we did and we feel we can compete at the top, so maybe we can surprise people again.”
The 28-year-old player also trusts his own lucky charm to claim a good result in Vienna. Jefferson has grown a goatee to compete in the World Championships, one that has earned him the nickname “The Rock” (in a reference to American actor and professional wrestler Dwayne Johnson) and several impressive finishes over the last years.
“It all started in a regional tournament in Asia,” he recalls. “I was wearing the goatee and was playing with a lot of intensity, hitting the ball really hard and people started calling me ‘The Rock’. We got a pretty good result there and since then I decided to grow it for every important tournament we play, especially the Olympics and the World Championships. It has worked so far and I hope it does again this time.”