Surabaya, Indonesia, July 30, 2017 – Hosts Indonesia made history on Sunday when they produced an incredible 3-2 comeback victory over powerhouses Iran to advance to the semi-finals of the SMM 19th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship for the first time in 42 years since their debut appearance in the inaugural Asian Championship in 1975.
Indonesia recovered from going down the first two sets 18-25 18-25 to Iran before clawing their ways back to win the remaining three sets 25-23 26-24 15-11 in an exhausting 122-minute battle In front of more than 2,000 boisterous home crowds at the Tri Dharma Petrokimia Gymnasium.
The win allowed the host side a chance to strut their stuff in the Monday’s semi-finals against defending and eight-time champions Japan, the 3-0 (25-21 25-16 25-22) winners over Australia in the other quarter-final encounter. Indonesia took part in the first Asian meet in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia, where they finished a distant 6th place out of seven participating teams. Since then, they have never finished among top four in any edition. Their best performance was the sixth position in 1975, 1991, 1999 and 2009.
Iran, the 2011 and 2013 Asian champions and the only Asian team joining the fray in the FIVB World League Group 1, did not send their senior team, but instead fielded a strong U23 squad this time in their final preparation for the next month’s FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Cairo, Egypt.
Rivan Nurmulki scored a team-high 24 points for the host team including 23 kills from 51 attempts, while Rendy Fabricant Tamamilang contributed 19 kills and 3 aces and Sigit Ardian added 3 kill blocks. Amin Esmaeilnejad led Iran with 20 points including 19 kills. Saeid Javaheri Tavana contributed 12 kills and 2 aces. Rahman Taghizadeh scored 6 kill blocks.
“I would like to thank all the Indonesian fans who boosted the team’s morale despite going down the first two sets. The cheering home fans proved a helping hand for our historic success today. I’ve never thought that we can beat any team in the top eight places. Seeing our team go down the first two sets to Iran, everyone might think that Indonesia must surrender with the straight-set loss. However, I’ve never thought that way. I think if the on-going game has yet been ended, you can’t say that we lost the match. I then asked my players not to give up easily and instead, play confidently without making any hasty unforced mistakes. Imagine, Iran have modern technology with well-qualified staff coaches and officials, while we have nothing. Still, we proved ourselves by beating the much stronger side. We will try our best to make another history by attempting to beat Japan in the Monday’s semi-final clash,” Indonesia’s head coach Samsul Jais said in the official press conference shortly after the match on Sunday.
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