Ardabil, Iran, May 7, 2017 – Title-holders Iran, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Thailand pulled off straight-set wins over their respective rivals on Sunday to advance to the semi-finals of the SMM 2nd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the 6,000-seater Rezazadeh Indoor Stadium.
The top-flight tournament has reached its climax on the Monday’s semi-finals, which will decide the top two teams to secure berths for the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Cairo, Egypt from August 18 to 26. Only China became a major casualty on Sunday when they suffered a disappointing loss to Chinese Taipei in the knock-out quarter-finals.
To make the tournament even more special, the organisers had prepared a birthday cake with a length of 1.70cm for five participating players who were born in May. They were Wee Jaye Teoh (Malaysia), Dilhan Perera Ayesh and Silva Harshaka (Sri Lanka), Bulat Kadryaev (Uzbekistan) and Muhammad Waseem (Pakistan). Over 6,000 Iranian fans inside the competition venue sang a happy birthday song for the five players.
Uzbekistan claimed 9th spot at Asian Men’s U23 Championship
Uzbekistan powered past Sri Lanka in straight sets 25-23, 25-21, 25-21 to take the 9th place at this championship.
Karimjan Rakhimkulov’s players did what the head coach had promised after the win against Australia that they would snatch the 9th place. The Uzbek players dominated the whole match, except in some moments in the first set which saw Sri Lanka produce the goods to briefly take the lead.
Uzbekistan’s head coach Rakhimkulov viewed that his players should deserve more to earn a better position and said: “Since we once lost to Sri Lanka 2-3 in this tournament, we had enough experience to remove our problems. We analyzed them and avenged them for the loss.”
Japan through to semi-finals following straight-set win over Malaysia
Unbeaten Japan brushed off Malaysia in straight sets 25-18, 25-23, 25-23 to become the first team to move up to the semi-finals.
Both teams played a quick game, but Japan gained the upper hand in combination and defense, especially with good reception and solid blocks. Malaysia tried their best to find every possible way to attack but the dogged Japanese saved the ball to a comfortable place for counter-attacking. The battle came to an expected 3-0 end in favour of Japan.
Issei Otake scored a match-high 18 points from 49 attempts in an efficient way for Japan, while Jian Qin Sim led Malaysia with 13 points.
Thailand demolished Pakistan in comfortable straight sets
Thailand clinched a semi-final berth after demolishing Pakistan in straight sets 25-22, 25-18, 25-17 in the Sunday’s quarter-final encounter.
Despite a sluggish start, formidable Thailand gradually pulled their game together to easily beat their opponents in comfortable straight sets.
Taking the first two sets 25-22 and 25-18, Thailand had a good court rotation in the third set as new faces were dispatched to the court and proved their talents by helping the team win 25-17. Thailand hold a 4-1 win/loss record en route to the Monday’s semi-finals. They lost only one match against Japan, going down 2-3 in their opening match.
“Pakistan were good enough at their attacks and blocks, but fortunately we played better today to win the crucial match,” Thailand’s head coach Monchai Supajirakul commented after the match.
“Against Iran in the semi-finals, I admit that it will be a very tough match. The Iranian players are tall and they are playing on home soil. We have to fight against Iran and a large crowd of their passionate fans who can be of big help to them. We will try our best, anyway,” he added.
Iran outclassed Kazakhstan to battle it out against Thailand in semi-finals
Iran proved a class above Kazakhstan to beat the less-experienced rivals in a one-sided affair 25-9, 25-17, 25-14 to secure a semi-final berth for the next clash against Thailand on Monday.
Reigning champions Iran troubled Kazakhstan with devastating triple attacking from Taghizadeh, Karimi, and Esmaeilnejad.
The home crowd were non-stop applauding the Iranian players as their performance lived up to all expectation for a straight-set win.
Iran’s head coach Juan Cichello said after the match: “Kazakhstan are a strong team with good attacks and blocks as you have seen them before. Our key element for this win is service and attack. Against Thailand, you all want to hear from me that it is easy but in fact, no match in this tournament is easy especially when Thailand made their way up into the quarter-finals and have advanced to the semi-finals now. We will do our best to qualify for the World Championship in Egypt.”
Chinese Taipei cruise past China to set up playoff rematch with Japan
Chinese Taipei pulled off a stunning straight-set 25-19, 29-27, 25-23 victory over China to set up a playoff rematch with unbeaten Japan in the semi-finals at the 6,000-seater Rezazadeh Indoor Stadium on Monday.
Fired-up Chinese Taipei fared much better in a tough match against China on Sunday as they cruised their way past the formidable rivals in a closely-contested straight-set battle.
Chinese Taipei, which lost in straight sets to Japan in their playoff match at the round of the last eight teams on Friday, fielded a well-established line-up led by hard-hitting Lee Hsing-Kuo in a tough match against China and now look forward to a revenge match against Japan in the semi-finals on Monday.
The championship continues on Monday in the semi-finals which see Iran take on Thailand and Chinese Taipei pitted against Japan, while Kazakhstan play Pakistan and China meet Malaysia in the 5th-8th place playoffs.
9th-10th: Uzbekistan v Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-21)
Japan b Malaysia 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-23)
Thailand b Pakistan 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-17)
Iran b Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 25-14)
Chinese Taipei b China: 3-0 (25-19, 29-27, 25-23)
Monday, May 8, 2017
Iran v Thailand
Japan v Chinese Taipei
5th-8th place playoffs
Kazakhstan v Pakistan
Malaysia v China
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