IRAN AND CHINESE TAIPEI THROUGH TO SEMI-FINALS OF ASIAD VOLLEYBALL COMPETITION
Jakarta, Indonesia, August 26, 2018 – Hosts Indonesia edged out past battling Thailand in the hard-fought all-Asean clash to join the elite teams in the crucial stage of the 18th Asian Games volleyball competition, as title-holders Iran and Chinese Taipei became the first two teams to reach the semi-finals.
Following the draw results earlier, the winning teams on Sunday advanced to round of 1st-6th and the losers being relegated to 7th-12th classification. However, four teams – Iran, China, Chinese Taipei and Saudi Arabia each had a lucky draw. Iran were due to take on China, with Chinese Taipei playing Saudi Arabia. They had to play a must-win match among them on Sunday to get through to the semi-finals of the quadrennial sports extravaganza.
Iran had four key players who competed in the Incheon Games gold-winning team including Milad Ebadipour and Saeid Marou and were strengthened by three young talents including Amir Hossein Toukhteh who joined the Iranian team which captured the FIVB Men’s U19 World Championship title last year.
The star-studded Iran powered past China in a hotly-contested three-setter 27-25 25-20 25-21, while Chinese Taipei produced a fantastic 3-1 (22-25 25-19 25-8 25-23) comeback win over Saudi Arabia to have their high hopes of advancing to the semi-finals fulfilled.
In the other matches, Korea, consecutive two-time Asian Games silver medallists, lived up to their billing as the Pool D winners as their overwhelming dominance continued through a fusion of skill and brute force led by ace spiker Moon Sungmin and Jeon Kwangin.
With nine key players who competed with the team in Incheon four years ago back to strengthen the team, Korea proved a cut above Pakistan, coached by Iranian Hamid Movahedi and powered by Aimal Khan, who landed the Best Outside Spiker award at the recent Asian Men’s Club Championship in Myanmar. Despite a stiff challenge from the gallant rivals, the Koreans came up with an awesome form to pull off an exceptional straight-set 25-19 25-22 25-17 victory. Moon Sungmin chipped in with 19 points for Korea, while Jeon Kwangin and Jung Jiseok added with 18 and 10 points respectively.
Pakistan had been relegated to 7th-12th classification, while Korea on Tuesday will go up against Indonesia, which struggled to beat arch rivals Thailand in epic five sets 25-22 25-23 23-25 22-25 15-12.
Meanwhile, fired-up Japan, which captured the Asian Championship two times in a row and silver medallists at the previous Asian Games in Incheon, Korea four years go, fielded a formidable line up led by Shunsuke Chijiki and Takeshi Dekita in a crucial match against India.
Japan overcame a sturdy challenge from India to win a close four-set battle 25-23 25-22 23-25 25-20.
“India are a good team but we thought that we are a better team. We just made the right place, especially end of the first set and in the middle of the second and third sets, we could score some good points for the lead. We next play Qatar. As far as I know, Qatar are AVC Cup champions and to play them is not easy. We have to prepare well for the tough match against them,” Japan head coach American Gordon Mayforth commented..
Qatar, which have yet lost a set to their respective rivals, remained on course after a sensational straight-set 25-21 25-18 25-20 win against Myanmar on Sunday.
In the classification round for 13th-20th places, Sri Lanka, coached by Serbian Dejjan Vulicevic, came from behind to beat underdogs Maldives in four sets 16-25 25-18 27-25 25-15, while Vietnam had a little problems in disposing of Hong Kong China 25-14 25-23 20-25 25-13.
Monday is the rest day for the men’s teams, but it will be the day when the women’s teams will play their last matches in pool round-robin preliminaries, with only top four teams from each pool advancing to the cross quarter-finals.
Asian champions Japan will test their mettle against Hong Kong China and Thailand take on hosts Indonesia in Pool A, while the Pool B encounters see Rio Olympic Games winners China play India, title-holders Korea face Chinese Taipei and Kazakhstan meet Vietnam.
The men’s teams will resume competition on Tuesday, with Thailand taking on Myanmar and India facing Pakistan in the 7th-12th places. In the 1st-6th playoffs, hosts Indonesia take on Korea and Japan challenge Qatar, with the two winning teams advancing to the semi-finals.
Elsewhere, Nepal take on Mongolia and Kazakhstan meet Kyrgyzstan in the 13th-18th playoffs and Maldives and Hong Kong China will battle it out in the 19th-20th playoff.
CLASSIFICATION FOR 1-12
Korea b Pakistan 3-0 (25-19 25-22 25-17)
Japan b India 3-1 (25-23 25-22 23-25 25-20)
Indonesia b Thailand (25-22 25-23 23-25 22-25 15-12)
Chinese Taipei b Saudi Arabia 3-1 (22-25 25-19 25-8 25-23)
CLASSIFICATION FOR 13-20
Sri Lanka b Maldives 3-1 (16-25 25-18 27-25 25-15)
Vietnam b Hong Kong China 3-1 (25-14 25-23 20-25 25-13)
CLASSIFICATION FOR 1-12
Iran b China 3-0 (27-25 25-20 25-21)
Qatar b Myanmar 3-0 (25-21 25-18 25-20)
MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 2018
10.00am: Pool A: Japan v Hong Kong China
12.30pm: Pool B: China v India
16.30pm: Pool A: Thailand v Indonesia
19.00pm: Pool B: Korea v Chinese Taipei
16.30pm: Pool B: Kazakhstan v Vietnam
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AVC Youtube: click: Asian Volleyball Confederation
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