Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, August 11, 2022 – In-form Bahrain ousted Iran in dramatic four sets 25-16, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18, handing the tough rivals the first loss in the 2022 AVC Cup for Men at the Nakhon Pathom Provincial Gymnasium here on Thursday.

Bahrain, second place in Pool D preliminaries, made a solid start in the round of their last eight teams in Pool F to race to an initial 7-4 lead against unbeaten Iran U20 squad, led by hard-hitting Amir Mohammad Golzadeh and Poriya Hooseinkhanzadeh. The clash was initially expected to be a tight battle between the two powerful sides striving for a semifinal berth.

It was Bahrain to come up with aggressive form in the opening set. They had too much power with Mohamed Abdulla and Mohamed Anan firing spectacular spikes to advance 14-7 before Iran replace setter Arshia Behnezhao with Porya Hosseinpour to improve on their offence. Still, their intention was in vain as Bahrain continued their good show. Taking a commanding lead with a seven-point clear at 23-16, Bahrain grabbed the remaining two points, one from their effective block and another one from Mahmood Ahmed’s ace serve to wrap up the comfortable set 25-16.

In the second set, Mohamed Anan was looking increasingly dangerous from spike range as Bahrain kept their noses in front at both technical timeouts to commandingly lead 16-10. Iran head coach Gholamreza Momeni Moghadam shuffled his team’s lineup for several times in this set to tactically improve on defence. However, the going gets tough as Bahrain remained in superb form to leave the Iranians behind by wide margin 20-13. Bahrain still led the way to lead 24-17, allowing the Iranians two set points before a serve from Poriya Hooseinkhanzadeh Firouzjah went to the net for the Bahrainis to close out the set 25-19.

Going down two straight sets, Iran got their great form back on track in the third set as Amir Mohammad Golzadeh unleashed a barrage of powerful attacks to help the team fight neck-and-neck against the Bahrainis. It was a very tightly-contested battle as the score was tied at 8-8 and again 16-16 as the Iran head coach mixed and matched his lineup. Levelling 22-22, Iran maintained their aggression and consistency to sweep the remaining three points including an unreturnable spike from Amir Mohammad Golzadeh to take the third set 25-22.

Bahrain took command in the fourth set to stay in front with a four-point clear at 10-6 and widened it to 14-20 and 21-15, making use of their excellent teamwork and better combinations. Leading 24-16, Bahrain handed saved two set points to capture the set 25-18 and match.

Mohamed Abdulla scored a match-high with 21 points including 15 attacks and two aces for Bahrain, while Amir Mohammad Golzadeh led Iran with 16 points.

“It was a very important step towards our aim of reaching the semifinals. We used experience and good attacks to beat them. I’m very proud of my team. They followed the staff coaches’ instruction and plan,” Bahrain head coach Issanaye Ramiress Ferraz commented after the match.

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