DAY 1 WRAPUP
Jiangmen, China, January 7, 2020 – Australia struggled hard to beat Korea in hard-fought five-set thriller to join Asian champions Iran, Qatar and hosts China in celebrating their first wins at the AVC Men’s Tokyo Qualification 2020 at the Jiangmen Sports Centre Gymnasium here on Tuesday.
Qatar, of which team officials are all Argentine, got their Olympic dreams off to a brilliant start as the world No.33 brushed off gallant India in thrilling straight sets 25-22 25-20 25-23 in Pool B to next go up against Australia, silver medallists at the last year’s Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Iran, on Wednesday.
Terrific Thomas Edgar scored a match-high 30 points on Tuesday to steer in-form Australia to an epic 3-2 (23-25 25-23 26-24 20-25 19-17) comeback win in a 155-minute, hotly-contested encounter against Korea, silver medallists at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
The 212cm Edgar, who played for Australia at the 2012 London Olympics, proved to be a scoring machine and an Australia’s major force to be reckoned with in this top-flight competition as he scored 26 attack points from 55 attempts and a team-leading 4 aces. Na Gyeongbok led Korea with 16 points from 12 attacks and a team-leading 4 aces.
Korea and India need a must-win match on Wednesday to improve their fortunes. Both sides will have to give it all out to win the Wednesday’s encounter since another loss will give them an early exit from the six-day tournament and Qatar and Australia will advance to the crosswise semi-finals no matter what results when they will battle it out on Thursday, the final day of the pool round-robin preliminaries.
In Pool A, Asian champions Iran proved too strong for Chinese Taipei as the world No.8 and the only Asian side to compete at the 2016 Rio Games in Brazil outclassed the smaller rivals in straight sets 25-16 25-17 25-14.
Porya Yali chipped in with 14 points for Iran including 13 attacks from 23 attempts, while Wang Min-Chun led Chinese Taipei with 6 points from his powerful attacks.
Iran, which claimed gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, called in veterans to strengthen their team after disappointing 8th place at the last year’s FIVB World Cup in Japan.They included Shahram Mahmoud, Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi, Morteza Sharifi and Majtaba Mirzajanpour. Chinese Taipei were led by Liu Hong-Jie, Wang Min-Chun and Chen Chien-Chen.
On Wednesday, Iran will take on Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei will challenge world No.20 and hosts China, which powered their way to an exceptional 3-0 (25-19 25-14 25-18) victory against Kazakhstan in their first encounter on Tuesday.
Inspirational captain Jiang Chuan chipped in with 16 points from 10 attacks and a team-leading 6 aces for China, while Maxim Michshenko topscored with 17 points for Kazakhstan, the team which took silver medal at the 1993 and 2017 Asian Senior Men’s Championship.
Despite the win, the host side has something to worry about for coming matches against Chinese Taipei and Iran. China’s first setter Zhan Guojun injured his ankle while the host team were leading 23-17 in the third set of their tough clash against Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
At conclusion of the pool plays on Thursday, only top two teams from each pool will advance to the crosswise semi-finals, while the teams finishing third and fourth places from each pool will crash out of the competition and return home.
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