Winners of the NAS freestyle ski and snowboarding championship at Ski Dubai pose with organisers.
Surprise have booked their place in the semi-final of the NAS Volleyball Championship following an engrossing 3-1 win over defending champions Dubai 2020 on Friday night at a packed Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex.
The 2017 champions will now meet Bin Thani in the first of the two semi-finals on Sunday night, while Dubai 2021, the toppers in Group B, will take on Fohood Zabeel in the second match.
With Fohood Zabeel having already clinched one of the two qualifying spots from Group A, Surprise and Dubai 2020 were left to fight for the second spot, with Surprise, who had defeated Fohood Zabeel 3-2 in their opening game, having the easier of the tasks - they just needed to make sure they win at least two sets on Friday night and then even a win would not have been enough for Dubai 2020.
Knowing the equation, Dubai 2020, who won the title as F3 last season, fought hard. Losing a tight first set, they clinched the second and were in the contest until 13-13 in the third, but Surprise then shifted gears to zoom ahead, winning the set to confirm their semi-final spot before clinching the match 25-23, 23-25, 25-18, 25-17 to finish at the top of Group A.
Dubai 2020 had lost their opening game against Fohood Zabeel 3-1 and Mohammed Abdulaziz Shamal believes that result cost them dear.
“We missed out in the first game and then we were left with a huge task against Surprise,” said the Dubai 2020 player.
“There is no substitute for winning and Surprise, who had won their first match, were in a much better position than us. As the reigning champions, a lot was expected from us, but unfortunately we failed to reach the required level.”
A part of the NAS Sports Tournament for the first time along with cricket, the NAS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding Championship at Ski Dubai attracted participants of all nationalities, including a team representing Dubai Police.
Hassan Al Fardan, a member of the Dubai Police team, won the Giant Slalom Men’s title with a time of 33.54 seconds, finishing ahead of Sean Gaugain (35.97) and Sam Sharbine (37.94).
“We are really proud of being a part of the NAS Sports Tournament this year,” said Chris David, Operations Manager at Ski Dubai and a former Great Britain skier and a coach.
“The popularity of this sport has been on the rise among both the Emiratis and expatriates since the opening Ski Dubai, and participating in tournaments like this will only improve their competitive skills and enhance their abilities.
“We are hoping the addition of this tournament to the NAS Sports Tournament will attract even greater attention to our sport in the UAE and the region.”
Organised by Dubai Sports Council under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, 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.
The tournament has seen more than 22,000 athletes take part over the past six seasons and the seventh season, being held under the slogan ‘Limitless Abilities’, will see more than 6,500 participants in action in 13 different events: Futsal, Volleyball, Padel, Fencing, Wheelchair Basketball, Futsal for People with Hearing Disabilities, NAS Night Challenge, the 5km and 10km Run, 75km Cycle Race, 3x3 Basketball, Jiu-Jitsu, Cricket and Snowboarding. There is a prize purse of Dhs.6 million on offer for them.
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The five-time European champions will face either Liverpool or Porto in the last four in their first appearance at the stage of the competition since 2015.
Liverpool crushed FC Porto 4-1 in Portugal on Wednesday to win their Champions League quarter-final tie 6-1 on aggregate and march on to a last-four showdown against Barcelona.
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