IRAN WIN BACK-TO-BACK ASIAD GOLD MEDAL AFTER 3-0 DEMOLITION OF KOREA IN FINAL SHOWDOWN
Jakarta, Indonesia, September 1, 2018 – Iran successfully retained their title in the 18th Asian Games volleyball competition after thrashing arch rivals Korea in gritty straight sets 25-17 25-22 25-21 in the final showdown at the GBK Tennis Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
Iran had four players who joined the team in the Incheon Games including Milad Ebadipour, Amir Ghafour and Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi.
The Asian powerhouses were also strengthened by three talented youngsters including Morteza Sharifi, one of the most promising players to come out of Iran, having played a pivotal role in the team’s gold medal campaign at the 2017 FIVB U19 Boys’ World Championship and who was present in the Iran’s VNL roster.
Iran and Korea made a solid start to trade aggressive attacks from the very beginning of the first set, but the Iranians proved their class in the middle of the set, with Ghafour and Sharifi taking turns penetrating the Korean defence with a series of powerful attacks. As Iran were leading 23-17 for good, Sharifi, who has already signed to play with Italian club BluVolley Verona this season, scored the team’s last two points through his lightning-fast spikes for the easy 25-17 win.
Their confidence boosted after the first-set win, Iran still played with awesome combinations and consistency. However, Korea, which fielded nine players who competed in Incheon including Seo Jaeduck and Jeon Kwangin, counter-attacked excellently, with ace spiker Moon Sungmin attempting to overcome the rivals’ solid blocks with his thunderous spikes. Still, the Iranians continued their superb run with effective blocks and attacks for the hard-fought 25-22, with Ghafour hitting a devastating spike for the Iran’s last point.
There was a glimmer of hope for Korea in the third set when Jung Jiseok and Jeon Kwangin produced a superb offensive combination to make the team hot on the tough rivals’ heels. However, straight off the mark, Morteza Sharifi and Amir Ghafour were on target and the Koreans struggled as they were being picked apart by the high-flying hitters. Iran took the set 25-21 and match.
Amir Ghafour and Morteza Sharifi chipped in with similar 14 points for Iran, but the 19-year-old Sharifi fared better with 13 attacks. Seyedmohammad Mousavieraghi added 12 including a team-leading 6 blocks.
The victory gave Iran two in a row in the Asian Games, this time with the incredible unbeaten record by not losing a single set to their respective rivals en route to claiming the gold medal. At the previous episode in Incheon, Korea four years ago, Iran made their debut success in the quadrennial extravaganza after pulling off an upset 3-1 win over title-holders Japan in the final showdown.
In the third-place playoff earlier, in-form Chinese Taipei pulled off a stunning 3-1 (25-22 25-23 17-25 25-16) victory over the strongly-built Qataris,who landed their maiden AVC Cup title in Taipei last month, to return with bronze medal. It was the nation’s maiden Asian Games bronze in 20 years. The Chinese Taipei men’s volleyball team have never entered the final match in the Asian Games. Their first-ever bronze medal in the Asian Games came in 1998 in Thailand when they edged past Japan 3-2 in the third-place playoff.
Chen Chienchen chipped in with 16 points including 11 attacks and a team-leading 5 blocks. Wu Tsunghsuan and Liu Hungmin also kept good company to add 15 and 14 points respectively. Mubarak Hammed led Qatar with 20 points from 16 attacks, 3 solid blocks and one ace. Qatari Nikola Vasic produced a fastest serve with the incredible 105km/h, while both sides similarly won 20 points through their opponents’ errors.
Meanwhile, Japan survived Indonesia’s scare to narrowly edge past the host side in epic five-set 35-33 22-25 25-21 25-27 15-12) victory to finish fifth place, leaving Indonesia to come in sixth position. Thailand maintained their 7th place they achieved in Incheon after producing a magnificent come-from-behind 3-1 (20-25 25-23 28-26 25-21) victory over Pakistan, which claimed the eighth place.
SATURDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
7th-8th Playoff: Thailand b Pakistan 3-1 (20-25 25-23 28-26 25-21)
5th-6th Playoff: Japan b Indonesia 3-2 (35-33 22-25 25-21 25-27 15-12)
Bronze-Medal Match: Chinese Taipei b Qatar 3-1 (25-22 25-23 17-25 25-16)
Gold-Medal Match: Iran b Korea 3-0 (25-17 25-22 25-21)
10. Saudi Arabia
13. Sri Lanka
19. Hong Kong China
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