REIGNING CHAMPS JAPAN AND IRAN KICK OFF ASIAN MEN’S U18 CHAMPIONSHIP WITH WINS
Tabriz, Iran, June 29, 2018 – Hosts Iran pulled off a dramatic 3-1 victory over Thailand as defending champions Japan thrashed arch rivals China in straight sets at Poursharifi Gymnasium at the 12thAsian Men’s U18 Volleyball Championship.
In the opening match of the day, Australia played a tough Pool C match against Hong Kong and defeated their opponents 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 25-18, 25-21), while the other encounter at the Aghdami Hall between India and Oman in Pool D saw the former overpower the latter 3-1 (25-16, 25-18, 21-25, 25-16).
In Pool A, Japan, which cruised past Korea in straight sets to reign supreme at the previous edition in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar last year, registered their first win in the top-tier competition following their scintillating 25-19, 25-22, 25-18 victory over China.
“There are several changes in the team roster and I cannot say it now that we can retain our title this year but we will try our best. Today, we took the advantage of the China’s unforced mistakes. Their opposite spikers made too many mistakes. We missed one of our key players as he cannot accompany the team according to AVC regulation which we received in Tabriz. Actually, I would like to say that we were not informed about it earlier,” Japan coach Hiroshi Honda said.
“We really wanted to win this match. When you focus on victory, you make more mistakes. My players are young and this is a good experience for them to face powerful teams like Japan”, China coach Yan Feng commented.
The well-established Pakistan, coached by Iranian Hamid Movahedi, smashed New Zealand 3-0 in Pool E. Pakistan’s youths are making their presence felt in this tournament and their coach had pride in them and said: “I trust my players and I am happy that I could find the talented and powerful players of Pakistan in a talent-finding process and prepare them for this match.”
In the last match of the day, hosts Iran, which went on their incredible form to capture the world U19 title last year in Bahrain, tested their mettle against Thailand in front of over 2,500 home spectators.
Iran proved much stronger than Thailand to win the first two sets 25-19, 25-20, but Thailand staged a successful comeback in the third set. As Thailand were leading commandingly 21-16, Reza Vakili made some changes in arrangement and helped Iran level 21-21. However, Thailand finally closed out the third set 25-22. In the fourth set, Iran entered the court with a winning attitude and recovered to beat Thailand 25-19 for an eventual 3-1 win.
“We were not familiar with our opponents as we were both new to each other finding no opportunity to have analysis. I am sure these young players will increase their capacity in every match. Experience can help the young players reduce their mistakes,” Iran coach Reza Vakili said.
In Pool F, Malaysia put it past fighting Turkmenistan in straight sets. The match went smoothly on the Malaysian side with 25-18, 25-11 in the first two sets but Turkmenistan turned up the heat on Malaysia to win the third set. It finally came to an end 28-26 in favour of the Malaysians in the exhausting 143-minute battle.
On the Saturday’s pool round-robin preliminaries, Iran go up against Chinese Taipei in Pool B, while Japan challenge Korea in Pool A. Sri Lanka take on Hong Kong and Kazakhstan meet India in Pool C and Pool D respectively.
The Pool F encounters see Qatar play Malaysia, with New Zealand taking a rest as there will no any match in Pool E.
The 12th Asian Men’s U18 Volleyball Championship serves as the Asian qualification tournament for the 2019 FIVB Men’s U19 Volleyball World Championship. Only top four teams will secure their berths for the next year’s world meet in Egypt.
At Poursharifi Gymnasium
Australia b Hong Kong: 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 25-18, 25-21)
Japan b China 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-18)
Iran b Thailand 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19)
At Shahid Aghdami Hall
India b Oman: 3-1 (25-16, 25-18, 21-25, 25-16)
Pakistan b New Zealand 3-0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-14)
Malaysia b Turkmenistan: (25-18, 25-11, 28-26)
June 30, 2018 (Local time)
Korea v Japan
Sri Lanka v Hong Kong
Qatar v Malaysia
Kazakhstan v India
Chinese Taipei v Iran
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