WAPDA HAND PAKISTAN FIRST-EVER MEDAL IN ASIAN MEN’S CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER 3-2 WIN OVER KHANH HOA
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 6, 2018 – WAPDA made history on Monday when the Pakistani side powered past battling Sanest Khanh Hoa in epic 3-2 (19-25 25-21 16-25 25-20 18-16) victory to grab bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium.
Since the championship inception in 1999, Habib Bank Limited were the only team from Pakistan to enter the semi-finals of the 2005 edition on home soil in Islamabad, but they had to be content with the fourth place. Since then, no Pakistani team have gone that far. The maiden bronze medal achieved by WAPDA has proved that Pakistan volleyball has already reached new heights.
Vietnam’s Sanest Khanh Hoa and WAPDA from Pakistan entered the competition court with the similar 4-1 record. The only loss came in the Sunday’s semi-finals, with the Vietnamese going down in straight sets to Iran’s Khatam Ardakan and the Pakistani side narrowly edged in exhausting five sets by Kazakhstan’s Atyrau.
Murad Jehan, who scored a match-high 20 points in the previous match against Atyrau, and hard-hitting Aimal Khan assisted WAPDA to shrug off their rust after a dismal start in the first set, which they trailed with four points behind at 14-18, but Sanest Khanh Hoa’s resilience was showcased through exceptional attacks from Tran Trien Chieu and Duong Van Tien and spectacular blocking from Tran Trien Chieu and Le Quang Doan and the Vietnamese found that it was not that tough to win the opening set 25-19.
Conceding one set, WAPDA got off to a great start in the second set for a 4-1 lead and went on that incredible form to advance with a 4-point clear at 22-18. With Aimal Khan, Murad Jehan and Sheraz Sheraz positioning themselves well for the counter-attacks, the Vietnamese were error-strewn and WAPDA stormed on to win a tough-looking set 25-21.
Hoping for a better performance, Sanest Khanh Hoa put their acts together in the third set. Stellar serving from Duong Van Tien and electric spikes from Tran Trien Chieu and Le Quang Doan fuelled the momentum swing as the Vietnamese rattled off some crucial points to lead commandingly 23-14. WAPDA saved one set point before going down 16-25 in the one-sided set.
WAPDA seized the lead for good in the fourth set with a 3-point clear at 21-18. The rivals struck back with fine blocks and attacks, but their attempts were in vain. The Pakistani side went on to win the set 25-20, forcing the rivals to contest the tie-breaker.
In the decider, both sides poured everything and leads changed hands for several times. Levelling 16-16, WAPDA snatched straight two points for the set win 18-16, match and the bronze medal.
As WAPDA claimed historic third place at the Asian Men’s Club Championship, Sanest Khanh Hoa also made an history for Vietnam to be the first team from the country to reach the semi-finals of the top-tier championship.
Aimal Khan chipped in with 25 points including 23 attacks, while Murad Jehan added 18 points including 16 kills. Nguyen Dinh Ngu led Sanest Khanh Hoa with 20 points.
“Sanest Khanh Hoa are a good team, while we started a little bad. But after we came back, we played much better. I’m too much happy to learn that this is our first medal in history. Our toughest match was the one against Kazakhstan’s Atyrau on Sunday. It’s a pity we did more mistakes than the rivals,” commented WAPDA’s assistant coach Hassan Mazhar, who spoke in place of head coach Iranian Hamid Movahedi, who rushed to the Nay Pyi Taw Airport ahead of the match conclusion.
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