Qatar's Elmajid & Ziad advance to Qeshm semifinals


Benlouaer Ziad (left) and Saifeddine Elmajid celebrate a point at October's event in Doha, Oatar

Qeshm, Iran, January 9, 2020 - Qatar’s Saifeddine Elmajid and Benlouaer Ziad posted a pair of wins here Thursday during the elimination rounds of the inaugural Dargahan Cup to advance to their first FIVB World Tour final four along with three tandems from host Iran.

Seeded eighth in the sixth men's beach volleyball event on the 2019-2020 FIVB World Tour calendar, Elmajid and Ziad opened play Thursday with a 2-1 (21-19, 21-23, 15-13) elimination win in 49 minutes over seventh-seeded Frantisek Knobloch and Martin Melmuka of the Czech Republic.

The opening victory was Elmajid and Ziad's only win on the sand Thursday as the Qataris advanced to the semifinals after fourth-seeded Hitoshi Murakami and Takashi Tsuchiya of Japan forfeited the quarterfinal match.

Competing in their third FIVB World Tour event together, Elmajid and Ziad have secured their best finish on the international circuit as the pair's previous top placement was a fifth at last October's season-opening event for the 2019-2020 campaign in Doha.

Friday's schedule features three host country pairs as top-seeded Bahman Salemi/Arash Vakili will play Elmajid and Ziad in the second semifinal after second-seeded Abolhamed Mirzaali/Rahman Raoufi meets 12th-seeded Alireza Aghajani/Javad Firouzpourbandpei.  

Salemi and Vakili, who have a 7-1 match mark this season, will be meeting the Qataris for the second time in the Dargahan Cup competition as Elmajid and Ziad dropped a 2-1 (18-21, 21-15, 15-7) pool play decision to the Iranians Wednesday.

The semifinal winners will meet Friday afternoon for the gold medal with the winning pair sharing the US$1,000 first-place prize.