IRAN, KOREA SET UP 2002 BUSAN FINAL REMATCH AT ASIAD VOLLEYBALL COMPETITION
Jakarta, Indonesia, August 30, 2018 – Fired-up Korea entirely smashed Chinese Taipei’s sweet dreams of advancing to the final for the first time in history after an epic 3-2 comeback win to test their mettle against reigning champions Iran in the final showdown of the 18th Asian Games volleyball competition at the GBK Tennis Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
The magnificent come-from-behind 20-25 25-20 25-16 20-25 15-12 victory over the spirited Chinese Taipei put Korea in their 10th final showdown at the Asian Games. Among the past nine finals, the Koreans had captured the Games gold medal for three times in 1978 in Thailand, 2002 on home soil in Busan and 2006 in Doha, Qatar. In 2002 in particular, the Koreans brushed off Iran in straight sets to celebrate their second Asian Games title at home.
Korea, consecutive two-time Asian Games bronze medallists, fielded nine players including powerful Seo Jaeduck and Jeon Kwangin who competed in the previous Games on home soil Incheon four years ago and star spiker Moon Sungmin, while Chinese Taipei sent in a formidable roster which powered past Saudi Arabia in the quarter-final classification to, according to the fast-track drawing of lots, advance to the semi-finals.
After levelling at 15-15 in the see-saw opening set, Chinese Taipei broke away, with terrific left-hander Wu Tsung-Hsuan and Liu Hung-Min on red-hot form to help the team snatch the exciting set 25-20. Korea recovered to take the second and third sets 25-20 and 25-16, but dropped 20-25 in the fourth set.
In the thrilling tie-breaker, both sides remained in awesome form. Levelling at 12-12, Korea launched wave after wave of their exceptional attacks. Seo Jaeduck became the team’s hero as he hit a successful spike to hand Korea a match point before following up with a solid block against a Chen Chien-Chen’s aggressive attack.
Winning the decider 15-12, the Koreans rushed to line up in victory formation, piling them up on Seo, who scored the last two points for the team’s victory. This marked a step better than what the Koreans had made in the previous Games on home soil in Incheon, where they had to be content with bronze medal.
As Korea survived the Chinese Taipei’s scare for the final, Iran, chasing dreams of winning a back-to-back Asian Games title, had an easier task in their semi-final clash against formidable Qatar, which captured the maiden AVC Cup in Chinese Taipei early this month.
Iran, which had four players including Milad Ebadipour and Saeid Marou who competed in the previous Games in Incheon, dominated the whole match. Seyedmohammad Mousavieraghi and Amir Ghafour were defending brilliantly at the net, blocking almost everything the rivals could throw at them. Ghafour uncorked a barrage of fierce attacks to help the Iranians take the close first set 25-23, but managed to keep Qatar at arm’s length in the second and third sets, which they won comfortably 25-19 25-18. Qatar, which played a tough five-set match against Japan in the quarter-finals, failed to really get out of the second gear.
Amir Ghafour scored a match-high 18 points for Iran including 16 kills from 31 attempts. Seyedmohammad Mousavieraghi added 10 points including a team-leading 3 blocks. Mubarak Hammad led Qatar with 13 points.
Meanwhile, Myanmar, powered by ace spiker Aung Thu, reached new heights on Thursday as they narrowly beat India, the team they have never beaten before, in exhausting five sets 25-21 18-25 27-25 15-25 15-13 to finish 11th in the Jakarta Games, leaving the Indians to return with the 12th position.
In the 7th-10th classification, determined Thailand, fielding young stars as the starting lineup including Amorntep Konhan, the 204cm-tall Kantapat Koonmee and Mawin Maneewong, struggled to beat fighting Saudi Arabia in hard-fought three-setter 25-23 27-25 25-22. The high-flying Amorntep Konhan and Kantapat Koonmee chipped in with similar 15 points for Thailand, while Hassan Alabdulbaqi led Saudi Arabia with 16 points.
On Saturday, Thailand will fight it out with Pakistan in the 7th-8th place playoff. Pakistan, whose players led by ace spiker Aimal Khan competed under the WAPDA’s banner finished a well-earned third place at the recent Asian Men’s Club Championship in Myanmar, caused a sensation after a fantastic 3-2 comeback (17-25 28-26 28-30 25-19 18-16) triumph over China in a tense battle.
In the 13th-16th Classification, Sri Lanka recovered to beat Nepal in four-setter 23-25 25-16 26-24 25-21, while Vietnam fought hard against in-form Kyrgyzstan to overpower the crack opponents in hard-fought three sets 25-16 26-24 29-27.
The 17th-18th place playoff between Kazakstan and Mongolia earlier saw the latter, for whatever reason, unable to meet the basic standards for playing the match at the scheduled competition time at the GOR Bulungan Gymnasium. As a result, the scores were 25-0 25-0 25-0 in favour of Kazakhstan, which eventually were placed 17th in Jakarta. Mongolia finished 18th position.
Only three men’s matches will be contested on Friday, with Saudi Arabia and China battling it out for the 9th place, Nepal playing Kyrgyzstan in the 15th-16th playoff and Sri Lanka challenging Vietnam in the 13th-14th playoff match.
In the women’s team event on Friday, Vietnam will face Indonesia and the Philippines will meet Kazakhstan in the 5th-8th playoffs, with Chinese Taipei being pitted against India in the 9th-10th playoff. The do-or-die semi-finals sees Asian champions Japan set up a big match against world No.1 and Rio Games champions China and Thailand renew rivalry with reigning champions Korea. The Thai team have already played Korea for two times this year comprising one in the VNL and another one in the Korea-Thailand Pro All-Star Super Match.
Thailand b Saudi Arabia 3-0 (25-23 27-25 25-22)
Pakistan b China 3-2 (17-25 28-26 28-30 25-19 18-16)
Korea b Chinese Taipei 3-2 (20-25 25-20 25-16 20-25 15-12)
Iran b Qatar 3-0 (25-23 25-19 25-18)
17th-18th: Kazakhstan b Mongolia 3-0 (25-0 25-0 25-0)
11th-12th: Myanmar b India 3-2 (25-21 18-25 27-25 15-25 15-13)
13th-16th: Sri Lanka b Nepal 3-1 (23-25 25-16 26-24 25-21)
13th-16th: Vietnam b Kyrgyzstan 3-0 (25-16 26-24 29-27)
AUGUST 31, 2018
09.00am: 5th-8th: Vietnam v Indonesia
14.30pm: 5th-8th: Philippines v Kazakhstan
17.00pm: Thailand v Korea
19.30pm: China v Japan
09.00am: 9th-10th: Chinese Taipei v India
14.30pm: 9th-10th: Saudi Arabia v China
17.00pm: 15th-16th: Nepal v Kyrgyzstan
19.30pm: 13th-14th: Sri Lanka v Vietnam
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