THAILAND, IRAQ MAKE HISTORY TO JOIN IRAN, KOREA IN SEMI-FINALS OF ASIAN MEN’S U20 CHAMPIONSHIP
Manama, Bahrain, July 26, 2018 – In-form Thailand stunned Chinese Taipei in hard-fought three-setter to go up against unbeaten Iran as determined Iraq came from behind to see off title-holders China to challenge Korea in the semi-finals of the 19th Asian Men’s U20 Volleyball Championship at the Isa Sport City Hall.
In the Thursday’s quarter-final encounters, Iran brushed off Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-13 25-15 25-16), Korea thrashed Australia 3-0 (25-19 25-19 25-18), Iraq produced a fantastic 3-2 (17-25 25-22 15-25 25-22 15-10) comeback win over China and Thailand downed Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-19 25-22 28-26).
To secure their semi-final berths in this top-tier championship was a new chapter of history for Thailand and Iraq. It was for the first time in 28 years that Thailand made it to the semi-finals. Their efforts in the top-four finish in the biennial tournament dated back to 1990 on home soil in Bangkok when a Thai squad advanced to the semi-finals, but later on went down to Korea in the third-place playoff.
Iraq also made much of the impact. In their fifth appearance in the championship in Mnama, Iraq booked their berth in the semi-finals for the first time in history since they made presence felt in 1984 in Saudi Arabia, where they returned with eight place.
However, daunting tasks await Thailand and Iraq in the semi-finals. Thailand will be pitted against Iran, former five-time Asian champions and silver medalists at the previous edition two years ago in Chinese Taipei. In the Asian meet in Manama, Iran also fielded a strong team, whose seven players including Porya Yali, Morteza Sharifi and Amir Hossein Esfandiar played in the squad which captured the world title at the last year’s FIVB Men’s U19 World Championship.
Iraq are also expected to have a tough game against highly-experienced Korea, former six-time Asian champions and consecutive two-time bronze medallists.
“I knew that we could best China. I told my second assistant coach before the match about this, but he said it was impossible. However, my team and I have already proved it that nothing is impossible. I am happy that my players developed themselves match by match and above all, they made history,” Iraq head coach Darweesh Saad Yahya commented.
In the 13th-16th playoffs, Japan powered past India 3-0 (25-19 25-21 25-13), with Pakistan outclassing Saudi Arabia 3-0 (25-13 25-20 25-18). The 21st-24th playoffs match saw Macao beat Malaysia 3-1 (25-21 25-17 23-25 25-18), while Sri Lanka defeated Qatar 3-1 (25-21 21-25 25-18 26-24) in the 9th-12th playoff match and the UAE played a hard-fought five-set thriller against Hong Kong before winning 25-23 10-25 25-20 15-25 15-13 in the 17th-20th playoffs match.
On Friday, the penultimate day of the championship, Thailand take on Iran and Iraq play Korea in the semi-finals, while the playoffs see Japan and Pakistan fight for the 13th position, India challenge Saudi Arabia for the 15th place, Maldives and Macao battle it out for the 21st position and Malaysia play Uzbekistan for the 23rd place. However, Uzbekistan had withdrawn from the competition earlier, leaving the Malaysians to finish 23rd position for sure.
Elsewhere, Australia play China and Kazakhstan take on Chinese Taipei in the 5th-8th playoffs, while Jordan face New Zealand in the 17th-20th playoffs match and Turkmenistan take on Bahrain in the 9th-12th playoffs encounter.
Only top two teams from this championship will secure two slots to contest the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship.
Macao b Malaysia 3-1 (25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 25-18)
Pakistan b Saudi Arabia 3-0 (25-13, 25-20, 25-18)
Japan b India 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-13)
Sri Lanka b Qatar 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24)
UAE b Hong Kong 3-2 (25-23, 10-25, 20-25, 25-15, 15-13)
Iran b Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-15)
Thailand b Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 28-26)
Korea b Australia 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-18)
Iraq b China 3-2 (17-25, 25-22,15-25, 22-25, 15-10)
Friday, July 27, 2018
9:00am – Uzbekistan v Malaysia (23rd-24th , Cancelled)
11:30am – Kazakhstan v Chinese Taipei (5th-8th)
14:00pm – Australia v Iraq (5th-8th)
16:30pm – Iran v Thailand (1st-4th)
19:00pm – Korea v China (1st-4th)
9:00am – Maldives v Macao (21st-22nd)
11:30am – Turkmenistan v Bahrain (9th-12th)
14:00pm – Jordan v New Zealand (17th-20th)
16:30pm – India v Saudi Arabia (15th-16th)
19:00pm – Japan v Pakistan (13th-14th)
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