Quatar has a history of flirting with “rental” super-teams. It had always been so in FIVB’s Club WCH, when the teams representing the country fixed up a diamond-studded squad at the last minute to participate in the tournament, before FIVB had to intervene and disallow the practice. This does not mean, though, that the oil-rich teams’ antics had to stop domestically.
Currently participating in the Emir Cup playoffs, some teams seriously beefed up their squads. Al Rayyan Club, who has already landed four major titles this season, “rented” Earvin Ngapeth for a few weeks before he presents himself to his new club Zenit Kazan. His former teammate at Modena, Tine Urnaut, signed with Al Ahli Club, while Nimir Abdel-Aziz, one of Italian A1 League’s hottest scorers, signed with Al Arabi Club. The Cup’s playoffs is set to run from April 29 to May 12.
To remember how this practice affected FIVB Club WCH play, take a look at Al-Rayyan’s roster in two of its tournaments:
2012 – National teamers from Bulgaria, USA, and Brazil
2014 – National teamers from Bulgaria, Brazil, and Cuba
The 2014 squad was good enough to finish the competition in 2nd place, beating Brazil’s Cruzeiro at the semis before falling to Russia Belogorie Belgorod at the finals.
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@AlRayyanSC lands @earvinngapeth in bid for season clean sweep — @alarabi_club, @ahliqat to bring in star players == Al Rayyan Club, who have already landed four major titles this season, made intentions of the season clean sweep clear when they roped in Earvin N’Gapeth for the premier event Emir Cup Volleyball Championship. The quarter-finals of the Emir Cup begin at the QVA Hall on Sunday with Qatar Sports Club taking on Al Shamal Club at 4.30 pm and QVA League runners-up Police clashing with Al Ahli Club at 6.30 pm. On Monday, runners-up and 21-time winners Al Arabi Club are pitted against Al Khor Club at 4.30 pm and defending champions and 12-time champions Al Rayyan Club will meet Al Wakrah at 6.30 pm. Outside spiker N’Gapeth is one of the top players in the world, having assisted the French national team bag the European championship (2015) and World League crown (2015 and 2017). On both the occasions, he was adjudged the Best Outside Spiker and Most Valuable Player. Capable of smashing the ball at 358 cms and blocking the rivals at 327 cms, N’Gapeth plays for Modena Club in Italy. He has already won the 2014-15 Italian Cup and the 2015-16 Italian Championship, Italian Cup and Italian Supercup. In the season 2015-16 he won his second Italian Supercup. His Italian Modena Club teammate Tine Urnaut is also playing in the Emir Cup. On his return to Doha, the ex-Al Rayyan Club player from Slovenia played for Al Ahli Club and contributed 18 points in the team’s win in the qualification match against Al Gharafa on Thursday. Urnaut is also a specialist and reputed outside hitter, who played for Al Rayyan two years ago. With the ability to spike the ball at 360 cms and pulling off blocks at 343 cms, he would definitely team up with Geraldo to make Al Ahli Club a team to reckon with this season. Al Arabi Club used two professionals this season and removed both of them. Now they have landed Dutch national team player Nimir Abdel-Aziz, who can play at two positions with ease – setter and opposite. Set to make his debut in Doha against Khor Club on Monday, AbdelAziz is expected to have a classic battle against N’Gapeth when their teams clash in semis.