Bangkok, Thailand, November 28, 2022 – Hosts Pakistan and Iran respectively powered past Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to remain the only two unbeaten teams on course for the title in the Engro Central Asian Men’s Volleyball Championship at Nishtar Park Sports Complex in Lahore on Sunday.
Iran in action with Bangladesh
Pakistan survived a scare from Sri Lanka to beat the spirited visitors in hard-fought straight sets on Sunday, while Iran proved a cut above Bangladesh for a 3-0 rout of the less-rated rivals.
Pakistan celebrate their win
At the completion of Day 4, Iran and Pakistan had similar performances to bag 9 points from three straight wins, but the former had yet lost a set to their opponents to stay atop the five-team standing and the latter finished second.
Bangladesh came in third place with 4 points from one win against three losses, with Sri Lanka, which had 2 points from one win against two losses, and winless Afghanistan in respective fourth and fifth positions.
Bangladesh already completed their round-robin campaign, but their anticipated outcome was a far cry from what Iran and Pakistan had already achieved. Iran and Pakistan had claimed 9 points, leaving the remaining teams to be unable to catch up with the two powerhouses of the zone.
On Monday, hosts Pakistan will play their last preliminary match against Iran to vie for the top spot of the standing. However, win or lose in that highly-anticipated clash, both teams have already qualified for the final showdown and a rematch on Tuesday.
In the other match on Monday, Afghanistan will have to come out at their maximum strength in a much-win match against Sri Lanka.
Afghanistan badly need either 3-0 or 3-1 win against the Sri Lankans to claim 3 points to overtake the rivals for a well-earned fourth place at the overall standing. So far, Sri Lanka had only 2 points from winning one match, but if they go down to Afghanistan 0-3 or 1-3 on Monday, the Afghans will advance to the top four spots following a better performance on total points.
If things go the Afghanistan’s way on Monday, they will finish fourth place at the end of round-robin preliminaries and will take on Bangladesh in the Tuesday’s third-place playoff clash, leaving Sri Lanka to return home with the fifth position.
Meanwhile, in the Sunday’s clashes, Pakistan, current world No.41 and 7th at the last year’s Japan-hosted Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Chiba and Funabashi, struggled to beat Sri Lanka in hard-fought three-set thriller 25-21, 26-24, 25-23 for three consecutive wins in the championship.
Lasindu Wasanthapriya’s brilliant performance alone could not save the day for Sri Lanka as he scored a match-high 28 points, all from his powerful attacks, for the team, but none of the Sri Lankan players won any block point. Talented Lasindu proved to be a strong player to be reckoned with in this championship as he had already scored a tournament-high 41 points in the match against Bangladesh.
However, Pakistan proved too hot for Sri Lanka to handle as Usman Faryad Ali chipped in with 17 points for the host side. Fahad Reza and Mubashir Raza kept good company to contribute 15 points apiece for the team.
Shortly after the match, Mr Chaudhry Muhammad Yaqoob, Chairman of the Pakistan Volleyball Federation, congratulated the players of Pakistan on their winning streak and a success to make it to the showdown. Mr Mohamed Latheef, President of Central Asian Volleyball Association, who watched the match inside the competition venue, also congratulated the Chairman on his team’s remarkable run in the championship.
Current world No.10 Iran, defending and consecutive two-time Asian and Asian Games champions, also made their mark in their third encounter against Bangladesh for a convincing straight-set 25-22, 25-17, 25-20 win.
Poriya Hossein Khanzadeh Firouzjah and Amir Mohammad Golzadeh handed Iran 19 points apiece, with the former scoring a match-high 16 attack points and the latter blocking team-leading 5 points.
On Monday, the last day of the round-robin campaign and the penultimate day of the championship, Iran will challenge hosts Pakistan, while Sri Lanka take on Afghanistan.
MATCH RESULTS AND STANDING
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