JAPAN STUN IRAN 3-1 TO SET UP FINAL CLASH WITH OLD FOES KOREA
Tabriz, Iran, July 5, 2018 – Title-holders Japan stunned Iran and their home fans with dramatic four-set 25-20, 25-22, 25-27, 25-16 victory to set up a final rematch with Korea in the 12th Asian Men’s U18 Volleyball Championship.
Japan beat Korea in straight sets in the final showdown of the previous edition to eventually reign supreme, but already went down 1-3 to the same rivals in the Pool A preliminaries here earlier.
Backed by a large number of cheering home crowds at the stands inside the Poursharifi Gymnasium, Iran made a successful comeback for a hard-fought 27-25 win in the third set after going down the first two 20-25 22-25.
The Iranians, who finished fourth at the last year’s Asian Men’s U19 Championship in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, but displayed incredible performance to capture the world U19 title in Bahrain the same year, poured everything in an effort of winning the fourth set, but failed to make their mark. Japan counter-attacked well to clinch the set 25-16, match and a final berth.
Bardia Saadat was the best scorer of Iran, adding 20 points to his tally. However, his determined effort alone was not enough to help the host side win. Mizumachi Taito scored a match-high 26 points for Japan mostly on spikes.
“We were so lucky that we beat current world U19 champions Iran. The match was high quality and both teams performed well,” Japan head coach Hiroshi Honda commented after the match. “In terms of the new format of the championship, I think it’s a bit tense but every team faces the same situation.”
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