Volleyball News

Osaka, Japan, September 17, 2017 – Amir Ghafour excelled in Iran’s 3-2 (38-36, 25-23, 22-25, 25-27, 15-11) win over France to finish with a bronze medal in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup at the Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium on Sunday.

Iran had five players that scored in double figures led by Ghafour, who finished with 24 points. Seyed Mohammed Mousavi Eraghi and Mohammadjavad Manavinezhad notched 20 and 19 points, then Milad Ebadipour and Saman Faezi added 12 points each. France also had five double-digit scorers, led by Trevor Clevenot and Stephen Boyer, who made 25 and 21 points, respectively.

Iran’s third participation resulted to their best ever finish at the World Grand Champions Cup, after finishing fifth in 2009 and fourth in 2013. Iran also recorded four victories in a single edition for the first time.

Iran and France had an intense duel in the opening set, which had to be decided with a two-point margin. Iran got better breaks and closed the set 38-36. The second set had another tight contest, but Iran still prevailed with the help of Ghafour and Manavinezhad. The French side retaliated with victories in the next two sets as Clevenot and Boyer persistently scored from the wings. Iran regained its composure and celebrated their bronze medal triumph with the victory in the fifth set.

Iran coach Igor Kolakovic: It was a very interesting and high-quality volleyball game. I’m so happy because we finished with a victory. After the game between USA and Italy, we knew we already had the bronze medal, so I asked the players if they wanted to play or not. They told me they wanted to play to win because they wanted to finish the tournament with a victory. So that makes me happy.

We’ve had a lot of problems with injury and not much time for recovery. But we finished the year in the best way, for Iran and the Iranian people. This is very important because the people have supported the Iran team and they deserve this medal as much as the players. This first medal for Iran is very important, so this tournament win was important for Iranian volleyball. And it provides us with extra motivation for next season and for our young players.

Iran captain Mir Saeid Marouflakrani: We knew it would be a tough match. All five sets were so close and both teams played great volleyball. It was very important to finish this competition with a victory and finally take a medal. So, I’m very happy and proud of my team. We did our best. It’s important for us. Iran had success in junior world tournaments but never in a senior one, so this makes it important. Our people followed our matches and enjoyed it, but without a medal there was something wrong, but now we’ve done that.

France coach Laurent Tillie: The result today was a pity but we showed great volleyball with great team performance and we put on quite a spectacle. Technically, France were able to show their strong points, but Iran are a strong team with great potential and I think they played at their best today. I’m satisfied with the performance of my players. We could have won the game, but it’s been a joy to play in this World Grand Champions Cup in Japan and we look forward to the next edition.

France captain Benjamin Toniutti: It’s a great shame about today but it was a superb match. France played great today and we were able to show we are a great team. We really showed our tenacity until the end. There were sets we could have won but couldn’t, so that’s why we lost. We have a new generation of players and we did well in the World League but not so well in the European Championship. But our younger players really played well and we will keep going and keep practicing so we can develop.


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