Tehran, Iran, September 17, 2019 – Japan, chasing their dreams of capturing the title three in succession, Korea and Australia stayed undefeated after brushing off their respective rivals with the same margin 3-0 in their Top 8 playoff encounters at the 20th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship on Tuesday.

Aside from Pool B winners Japan, Pool A frontrunners Australia and Pool D pace-setters Korea, world No.8 Iran, the Asian champions in 2011 and 2013 and the only Asian team which took part in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, were the other team in the Top 8 which sealed the Tuesday’s victories.

Hosts Iran struggled to beat Pool C winners China in thrilling straight sets 25-18, 25-23, 25-17, with talented Amir Ghafour chipping in with 17 points for the winning side and Seyed Mohammad Mousavi keeping good company to add 12 points. Liu Libin led China with 17 points.

Iran will be next pitted against India on Wednesday, while China go up against Australia. The Volleyroos on Tuesday saw off India in hard-fought three-set thriller 29-27, 26-24, 25-21. Korea, bronze medallists at the previous edition in Indonesia two years ago and the only team which have yet lost a single set to their respective rivals this time, survived a Chinese Taipei’s scare to beat the fighting oppositions in hotly-contested three-setter 25-21, 25-19, 26-24.

World No.11 Japan, defending and consecutive two-time champions, made their mark on Tuesday as the title-hotshots extended their invincibility in this top-tier championship after cruising past the spirited Pakistan in thrilling three sets 25-23, 25-20, 25-21. Japan will next take on Korea in the Wednesday’s all-Asian affair, while Pakistan will compete against Chinese Taipei.

In the classification round for 9th-16th places, the last year’s AVC Cup winners Qatar, spearheaded by Nadir Ababacar Sadikh, produced a pulsating straight-set 25-18, 25-20, 25-16 victory over gallant Oman, while Sri Lanka pulled off an eye-catching 35-33, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22 win against Kazakhstan, silver medallists at the previous edition, to record their maiden victory. Sri Lanka will next challenge Oman, while Kazakhstan will play Qatar.

Meanwhile, Thailand smashed Kuwait’s sweet dreams of winning their very first match in this topnotch championship by defeating the determined rivals 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-16). Devastating left-hander Amorntep Konhan chipped in with 13 points for Thailand, third place in Pool B, while Rashed Saleh Anbar contributed 13 points for Kuwait.

On Wednesday, Thailand will take on archrivals Indonesia in a 2017 South East Asian Games final rematch. The Indonesians demolished Hong Kong China 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-20). Kuwait will battle it out with Hong Kong China, both teams seeking their very first victory in Tehran.

The playoff encounters among the Top 8 teams and the lower-ranked sides for 9th-16th places continue on Wednesday before all participating teams will be ranked respectively according to their performances. The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be held later on Thursday and Friday, while the final showdown will take place on Saturday.

The on-going 20th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship in Tehran also serves as the first step for the Asian teams to qualify for the next year’s Olympic Games. The top eight teams, except the Tokyo 2020 hosts Japan, have already been confirmed their berths to compete in the AVC Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament in Jiangmen, China from January 7 to 12, 2020, from which the only winning team will make the cut for the Tokyo 2020.

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