IRAQ REIGN SUPREME IN 1ST AVC MEN’S CHALLENGE CUP
Colombo, Sri Lanka, September 21, 2018 – Iraq recovered from a poor start to power past Saudi Arabia in thrilling five-setter 14-25 25-14 25-16 26-28 15-13 in the exhausting 126-minute final showdown of the 1st AVC Men’s Challenge Cup at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium to capture the historic title on Friday.
As Saudi Arabia had been regarded as the strongest team in the one-week tournament as they are best world ranked No.50 and finished 10th in the recent 18th Asian Games in Indonesia, while Iraq fielded a strong lineup led by hard-attacking Hussain Nameer Shamil and Ali Sahib Abushanan.
With the greater experience and form, Saudi Arabia faced no issues in thrashing the Iraqis for the comfortable 25-14 win in the first set. However, things turned sour for them when the rivals gradually pulled their game together to take the next two sets 25-14 25-16.
The fourth set was more thrilling when both sides gave it all out to trade blows. Saudi Arabia fared better to win the hard-fought fourth set 28-26, forcing Iraq to contest tie-breaker. Both teams fought hard in the decider, but Iraq held their nerves at the final assault to win crucial points. Getting the wind in their sails, Iraq captured the hotly-contested set 15-13 and the championship.
Ali Sahib Arbushanan chipped in with 17 points including 12 attacks from 28 attempts, while Hussain Nameer Shamil and Islam Sachit Challab added 14 and 13 points respectively.
Sri Lanka restored their pride after brushing off Bangladesh in easy straight sets 25-16 25-17 25-17 in the third-place playoff to delight home fans with bronze medal.
Lasindu Gonaragamage scored a team-high 13 points for Sri Lanka including 11 kills from 18 attempts, while Biswas Horosit led Bangladesh with 9 points including 7 attacks from 20 attempts.
The United Arab Emirates claimed the fifth place after producing a magnificent come-from-behind 3-2 (21-25 25-17 22-25 27-25 15-7) victory over Hong Kong China, which returned home with the sixth position in the inaugural competition.
The seventh place went to Malaysia after seeing off Mongolia in hard-fought three-setter 25-19 32-30 31-29.
7th-8th: Malaysia b Mongolia 3-0 (25-19 32-30 31-29)
5th-6th: UAE b Hong Kong China 3-2 (21-25 25-17 22-25 27-25)
Bronze medal match: Sri Lanka b Bangladesh 3-0 (25-16 25-17 25-17)
Championship match: Iraq b Saudi Arabia 3-2 (14-25 25-14 25-16 26-28 15-13)
2. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
3. Sri Lanka
5. United Arab Emirates
6. Hong Kong China
Best Outside Spiker
1. Deepthi Romesh (No.18, Sri Lanka)
2. Horosit Biswas (No.5, Bangladesh0
Best Middle Blockers
1. Majrashi Ibrahim (No.17, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
2. Sachit Challab Islam (NO.11, Iraq)
Best Opposite Spiker
Nameer Shamil Hussain (No.1, Iraq)
Haneed Jabbar Mustafa (No.6, Iraq)
Lakmal Wijesekara (No.2, Sri Lanka)
Albakheet Ahmed (No.3, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
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