Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 27, 2016 – Bank Sarmayeh and Al-Arabi Sports Club remained the only two undefeated teams when the “SMM” 2016 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship has now reached crunch time with eight teams left to battle it out for the top honour and the lone ticket for next year’s FIVB Men’s Club World Championship.
Contesting the 1st-8th playoffs in Pool F at the Wunna Thekdi Indoor Stadium Hall B in Nay Pyi Taw on Saturday, Iran’s Bank Sarmayeh, which are very strong with the likes of six Rio-bound Iranian players and strengthened by Pole Lukas Zygadlo and Montenegro import Vojin Cacic, overcame a strong challenge from Japan’s Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza to edge out the team which finished second in Pool B in the preliminary round in dramatic four sets 28-26 25-18 23-25 25-13 in exhausting 110 minutes.
Also making their mark in the top-notch tournament by not losing a match are Al-Arabi Sports Club, which finished second in the previous year. The Qatari side on Saturday had a field day to send Vietnam’s Maseco TPHCM packing in straight sets 25-22 25-20 25-19.
In the first encounter, Bank Sarmayeh proved a cut above Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza to beat the Japanese counterparts 3-1. Shahram Mahmoudi led Bank Sarmayeh with 20 points including 19 kills from 32 attempts, while Croatia import Igor Omrcen, who played his first match of the tournament on Saturday, top scored with 19 points for Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza.
“The Japanese team are different than the other teams we met in the three previous matches. Japan lost in the preliminary round and now they have to play their best in order to beat us. They played in risky ways and very hard and that’s why they used Igor Omrcen who sustained an injury in the match against is us today. This probably will be their last chance in this tournament. However, Japan are always a truly respected team,” said Iranian coach Mostafa Karkhaneh.
“To be the champions here, we have to play our best with good teamwork. I hope we will continue this form until the end. We next will play Taiwan Power from Chinese Taipei. I don’t think it will be easy for us. In this round every match is always difficult,” he added.
Shanghai Golden Age of China, which have already suffered their first loss to Al-Arabi Sports Club in the preliminary pool play, struggled to beat hosts Myanmar in thrilling four sets in Pool E 25-19 26-24 22-25 25-14. The Chinese side made a brilliant start to take the first two sets 25-19 26-24, thanks largely to the splendid performance of Hungarian-born German Gyorgy Grozer and Dai Qingyao, who scored crucial points for the Chinese team. Myanmar, boosted by more than 2,000 home spectators, clawed their way back to take the third set 25-22. In the fourth set, Myanmar found the Chinese triple walls and powerful jump serves too difficult to handle. Shanghai Golden Age took the fourth set and match 25-14.
Strongly-built Gyorgy Grozer, a 200cm attacking machine, was simply unstoppable, scoring 14 kills, 2 blocks and 7 aces for an aggregate 23 points for Shanghai Golden Age, while Aung Thu delighted the home crowds with his dazzling display with 26 points including 22 deadly attacks from 42 attempts.
“It was a very difficult match. Myanmar played unbelievably well. They are a very strong team with aggressive attacks. But i think we made too many mistakes from easy balls. It was a good game for the Myanmar team. Congratulations to them and thanks to the host fans who have made such a good cheering atmosphere today. We want to win this tournament, but we have to play better. I do hope we will keep our level up and improve it day by day,” said Gyorgy Grozer, one of the key players in the Chinese team.
Meanwhile, Taiwan Power suffered their first loss in the competition at the hands of Altay VC in Pool F. The Kazakh side stunned the strong rivals whose players including Wang Ming-Chun played for the last year’s eventual Asian Men’s Club winners Taichung Bank in straight sets 25-21 25-17 25-18.
Maxim Michshenko Maxim scored a match-high 14 points for Altay VC including 10 kills from 24 attempts and 4 blocks, while Wang Ming-Chun top scored with only 7 points for Taiwan Power.
“It was a good game today. Taiwan Power are a good team with good combination attacks. We tried to win this match and I am very happy for our victory eventually. We next take on Japan. We have to perform 100 per cent against them and we will try to do our best,” said Sergll Gumeniuk, the team captain of Altay VC.
In Pool E, Al-Arabi Sports Club from Qatar proved to be one of the strongest teams to be reckoned with at the top-flight tournament following their sensational 3-0 (25-22 25-20 25-19) victory over lacklustrous Maseco TPHCM. Al- Arabi Sports Club’s head coach Lajnef Maaouia rested some key players and instead fielded those from the bench.
After the match, Maaouia admitted that the match wasn’t easy and he expected a touch match against hosts Myanmar on Sunday.
“It wasn’t an easy match. We had to play well and put pressure on them in order to win. If we played easily, they would be dangerous for us, so we had to give 100 per cent. Vietnam are a good team with good techniques and fighting spirit. We will next play Myanmar. I don’t think it is going to be easy for us. I saw them play today against China. We will do our best to beat them,” commented the Qatari coach.
The top scorer of the match was Jorge Garcia Gonzalez, who collected 19 points for Al-Arabi Sports Club, while Nguyen Thanh Nam led Maseco TPHCM with 13 points.
Meanwhile, in the 9th-15th playoffs at Hall C, Polri Samator from Indonesia proved too strong for Hong Kong to thrash the underdogs team in comfortable straight sets 25-14 25-20 25-13, while Iraq’s Gas Aljanoob claimed their first victory in the tournament after producing a come-from-behind 3-1 (30-32 25-18 25-16 26-24) victory over Malaysia.
According to the match schedule, Japan’s Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza will next face Kazakhstan’s Altay VC on Sunday and Chinese Taipei’s Taiwan Power play Bank Sarmayeh from Iran in Pool F, while Myanmar take on Qatar’s Al-Arabi Sports Club and Maseco Tphcm from Vietnam challenge Shanghai Golden Age of China in Pool E.
In the 9th-15th playoffs, Al Janoob will take on Hong Kong and Polri Samator play Malaysia.
Shanghai Golden Age (China) b Myanmar 3-1 (25-19 26-24 22-25 25-14)
Al-Arabi Sports Club (Qatar) b Maseco TPHCM (Vietnam) 3-0 (25-22 25-20 25-19)
Altay VC (Kazakhstan) b Taiwan Power (Chinese Taipei) 3-0 (25-21 25-17 25-18)
Bank Sarmayeh (Iran) b Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza (Japan) 3-1 (28-26 25-18 23-25 25-13)
Al Jazira Club (UAE) b Nebitchi (Turkmenistan) 3-0 (25-0 25-0 25-0)
Polri Samator (Indonesia) b Hong Kong 3-0 (25-14 25-20 25-13)
Gas Al Janoob (Iraq) b Malaysia 3-1 (30-32 25-18 25-16 26-24)
SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 2016
14.00pm: Myanmar v Al-Arabi (Qatar)
19.00pm: Maseco TPHCM (Vietnam) v Shanghai Golden Age (China)
11.30am: Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza (Japan) v Altay VC (Kazakhstan)
16.30pm: Taiwan Power (Chinese Taipei) v Bank Sarmayeh (Iran)
11.30am: Wing 46-Phitsanulok (Thailand) v Nebitchi (Turkmenistan)
14.00 pm: Al Janoob (Iraq) v Hong Kong
16.30pm: Polri Samator (Indonesia) v Malaysia