Riffa, Bahrain, August 28, 2022 – Reigning champions Iran on Sunday put it past Korea in dramatic four sets to set up the final showdown with India in the 21st Asian Men’s U20 Volleyball Championship at Isa Sports City Hall.
In the Sunday’s semifinals, unbeaten Iran, defending and six-time champions, faced a daunting task against Korea, former six-time champions and the team they had already beaten in straight sets in the 2018 edition also held here in Riffa to reign supreme.
Iran attacks Korea
The Iranians, who also tested their mettle against many senior national teams in the recent AVC Cup for Men in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand to finish a well-earned 5th place, made a solid start to take the hard-fought first set 25-22 before going down in hotly-contested second set 24-26. The remaining sets turned out to be comfortable affair as the much stronger Iranians cruised on, keeping pace to stay in control to capture the third and fourth sets 25-17, 25-19 for the match and a final berth.
India spikes past Thai blockers
The other semifinal clash between India and Thailand, bronze medallists at the previous edition here four years ago, saw the former see off the determined latter, led by a brilliant all-round performance from devastating left-hander Kittipong Sangsak, in thrilling four-setter 25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 25-17.
Kittipong, left, scores 29 points in Thailand’s 1-3 loss to India
It seemed that the Kittipong’s heroics had no answer to the excellent teamwork and effective blocks of India. Kittipong weighed in a huge 29 points including 26 attacks for Thailand, but his splendid form alone was not enough to carry the team to the final showdown. Aman Kuwar chipped in with 18 points for India, while Tanish Chaudhary and Harshir Giri kept good company to add 15 and 12 points respectively. The Indians took the height advantage to score 15 block points against Thailand’s 7 in this tough-looking match.
Iran celebrate their win
Iran advanced to the final showdown for the 10th time, while India made it to the showdown for the third time in history and the first time in 20 years since they had entered their previous 2002 final in Tehran, where they went down to hosts and eventual winners Iran 1-3.
India celebrates a point win
In 1994 in Doha, Qatar, India made their debut final in this topflight age group event, but only picked up silver with the title going to Korea.
India are looking forward to the Monday’s showdown, aiming to avenge the loss to the mighty Iranians in the 2002 final clash, while Iran also have their sights firmly set to continue their supremacy in this top-tier championship.
With their exceptional wins in the Sunday’s semifinals, both Iran and India have already secured their berths in the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship. Without doubts, the mighty final clash among them on Monday promises a hard-fought thriller.
Thailand and Korea will fight it out in the third-place playoff to vie for the bronze medal. As Thailand had already claimed it at the previous edition four years ago, the Koreans, silver medallists, also badly need this consolation medal.
China attacks Bangladesh
Meanwhile, China’s sweet dreams of retaining their 5th place achieved at the previous edition, turned nightmares when the former four-time champions were narrowly edged 2-3 (30-32, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22, 13-15) by Bangladesh in the Sunday’s 5th-6th place playoff clash.
In the 7th-10th playoffs, Pakistan downed Saudi Arabia in four sets 28-26, 14-25, 26-24, 25-18 to next fight it out for the 7th position with hosts Bahrain on Monday.
Bahrain defeated Iraq in well-fought straight sets 25-21, 25-21, 25-17 on Sunday, leaving the Iraqis to contest the 9th-10th playoff match against Saudi Arabia.
Qatar ended their campaign in the 21st Asian Men’s U20 Championship in the 11th position on Sunday following their sensational 25-16, 25-21, 25-19 triumph over the United Arab Emirates.
Japan celebrate their win
In the 13th-14th playoff encounter, former three-time champions Japan brushed off Chinese Taipei in straight sets 25-14, 25-22, 25-22 to take home the 13th position, with Chinese Taipei making a 14th-place finish.
Australia ready to attack Hong Kong, China
Australia claimed the 15th place in this championship after 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-19) demolition of Hong Kong, China in the Sunday’s 15th-16th playoff match, while Kuwait received a bye in the clash for 17th-18th places to finish 17th place.
Only four matches will be contested on Monday, August 29, the final day of the eight-day championship. The respective playoffs see Iraq take on Saudi Arabia in 9th-10th and Bahrain play Pakistan in 7th-8th, while Thailand will be pitted against Korea in the bronze-medal match, followed by the final showdown between Iran and India. The awards presentation and closing ceremony will be conducted shortly after the end of the final match.
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