WRAP UP DAY 1
Tehran, Iran, September 13, 2019 – As powerhouses including Japan, Korea, China and hosts Iran enjoyed a field day on Day 1 of the 20th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship at the 12,000-seater Azadi Sports Complex, India pulled off a stunning victory over Kazakhstan, silver medallists at the previous edition, in a hard-fought five-set thriller on Friday.
The top-tier championship attracted a total of 16 teams across the continent to vie for the top honour, while top eight teams except the 2020 Olympic hosts Japan will be eligible for the AVC Continental Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament from January 7 to 12, 2020 in Jiangmen, China, where only the eventual winning team will secure their berth in the Tokyo 2020.
The curtain-raising match between defending and consecutive two-time champions Japan and Hong Kong China at the Azadi Sports complex saw the former outclass the lower-ranked latter with a convincing straight-set 25-21, 25-15, 25-11 triumph in Pool B. Kunihiro Shimizu scored a match-high 20 points including 18 attacks from 27 attempts for Japan.
Indonesia, fourth place at the previous edition on home soil two years ago, shrugged off a slow start to beat Kuwait with a comeback 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-18) win to seal their first win in Pool D and are due to next take on Pakistan on Saturday. The other Pool D encounter saw former four-time champions Korea struggle to beat Pakistan in thrilling three-setter 25-23, 25-23, 25-19.
In Pool B encounter, Thailand’s sweet dream of winning their opening match in Tehran turned a nightmare when the world No.39 succumbed to 3-1 (16-25 25-23 16-25 21-25) defeat at the hands of Chinese Taipei, coached by Serbian Moro Branislav, who was behind the memorable success of the Chinese Taipei men’s U23 squad with their historic gold at the last month’s Asian Men’s U23 Championship in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. Branislav came to Iran with Chinese Taipei senior team with an ultimate goal of chasing more major glory this time.
Iran, gold medallists in 2011 and 2013 and the only Asian team competing in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil, where they finished joint 5th place, got the 20th episode at home off to a brilliant start after a straight-set 25-15 25-17 25-23 victory over Sri Lanka in Pool A.
In Pool C, former three-time champions China left the Volleyball Federation Hall in delight on Friday as the world No.20 powered past Oman in dramatic four sets 25-17 22-25 25-18 25-16. However, both sides played with several unforced mistakes, with China taking 27 points from Opponents Error and Oman 26.
The opening day also saw two tie-breaker thrillers with 2007 champions Australia edging past the last year’s AVC Cup winners Qatar 3-2 (25-23, 25-21, 23-25, 18-25, 15-10) in Pool A, while India turned on the heat on the very first day of the topflight competition. India, the team ranked 131 in the world, played a difficult Pool C match against Kazakhstan, which lost 1-3 to Japan in the final showdown at the 2017 edition in Indonesia, before overcoming the tough rivals 31-29 25-14 28-30 18-25 15-9.
A total of 16 teams are taking part in the 20th edition from September 13 to 21. Iran, Australia, Qatar, Sri Lanka are in Pool A, while Pool B features Japan, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Hong Kong China. Kazakhstan, China, Oman, and India are in Pool C, with Pool D comprising Korea, Indonesia, Kuwait, and Pakistan.
The pool round-robin preliminaries continue through Sunday and at the end of the three-day pool plays, top two teams from each pool will advance to the round of the top eight. Teams finishing third and fourth places from each pool will be relegated to classification round for 9th-16th places.
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