AL-ARABI AND SIRJAN TO RENEW RIVALRY IN HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED FINAL SHOWDOWN OF 2021 ASIAN MEN’S CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP IN THAILAND

AL-ARABI AND SIRJAN TO RENEW RIVALRY IN HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED FINAL SHOWDOWN OF 2021 ASIAN MEN’S CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP IN THAILAND

WRAP-UP DAY 7

By Maryam Hessaby

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, October 14, 2021 – The 2021 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship has reached its climax when unbeaten Sirjan Foulad Iranan will rematch with old foes Al-Arabi Sports Club in the highly-anticipated final clash of Titans at Terminal 21 Hall on Friday.

The 2012 Asian Club winners Al-Arabi Sports Club of Qatar and the Iran’s Premier League champions Sirjan Foulad Iranian captured their victories against their respective rivals in the Thursday’s do-or-die semifinals, with the former producing epic 3-2 comeback win against Kazakhstan National League champions Burevestnik Almaty and the latter brushing off six-time Thailand League winners Nakhon Ratchasima QminC VC in convincing three-setter.

Embattled Al-Arabi Sports Club on Thursday showcased a dose of grit through sensational blocking and a potent blend of attack and defence to win a fantastic 3-2 (15-25, 25-15, 15-25, 28-26, 15-9) comeback win against Burevestnik Almaty not only to move one step closer to winning their second Asian Club title but also hand the Kazakh outfit the disappointing loss to crash out of the title race.

For Al-Arabi Sports Club, the Friday’s showdown will be their fifth final in the Asian Club Championship. They had already entered the final in 2010, 2012 in China, where they captured the Asian Club title after stunning hosts Shanghai Tang Dynasty 3-1 in the showdown, 2015 and 2016.

In the final clash, Al-Arabi are due to take on Sirjan Foulad Iranian, which capped a hard-fought three-set 25-19, 25-21, 25-22 win against determined Nakhon Ratchasima in the other semifinal encounter.

Iran is defending and consecutive four-time Asian Club champions (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), with Shahrdari Varamin stunning Japan’s Panasonic Panthers 3-2 to reign supreme in the previous edition two years ago in Chinese Taipei (The 2020 edition was cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic).

So far, the Iranians have already captured 14 Asian Club titles. Among the Iran club teams winning this topflight competition, Paykan Tehran performed superbly to take the highest 7 titles (2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), Shahrdari Varamin (2014, 2019) and Sarmayeh Bank Tehran (2016, 2017) bagged 2 titles each, while Senam Tehran (2004), Kalleh Mazandaran (2013) and Khatam Ardakan (2018) claimed one title apiece.

On Friday, the last day of the one-week Championship, Sirjan Foulad Iranian will rematch with Al-Arabi, the team they had already beaten 3-1 in the preliminary Pool B encounter.

The two semifinal losers, Nakhon Ratchasima and Burevestnik Almaty, will battle it out in the third-place playoff in what could be another revenge match as the Thai side had suffered straight-set loss at the hands of the Kazakh side in the preliminary Pool A encounter.

Nakhon Ratchasima head coach Padejsuk Vannachote said, “I have to admit that we have a lot of disadvantages in terms of both physical aspects and tactics. Sirjan players are good in their figures and have better individual tactics. When playing as a team, they become very strong and invincible. My team did well and tried their best today even though they faced sturdy challenges against bigger and taller blocks. I think tomorrow’s game will be challenging for us because we need to take the third position for home fans.”

Meanwhile, the 5th-8th playoff matches earlier saw South Gas Club of Iraq struggle to beat Uzbekistan’s AGMK in see-saw battle 25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 25-21 to next fight for the 5th place against Kazma Sport Club.

The Kuwait’s Kazma SC gallantly fought hard against Diamond Food to edge past the fighting Thais in thrilling four-setter 25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21. AGMK will face off against Diamond Food, the team they went down 2-3 in pool plays, in the 7th-8th playoff encounter.

Diamond Food head coach, Somboon Nakpung said, “We had some mistakes in blocking that made our game in the middle zone unstable. Kazma performed very well today. In the next match against AGMK, we need to improve these weak points so we can beat them as we did in the preliminary round.”

Diamond Food captain, Kittikun Sri-utthawong said, “We fought until the last minute of the game. I was satisfied with the team’ spirit and their utmost effort. Anyway, we have some mistakes to fix for the next game.”

MATCH RESUTLS

MATCH SCHEDULE

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