July 11, 2003 – Defending five-time champions Brazil have been joined by India, Iran and the Czech Republic in the semi-finals of the Boys’ Under-19 World Championship in Suphan Buri, Thailand on Friday, after the Brazilians smashing Russia’s ultimate dreams of clinching the world title for the second time and fired-up Iran giving Thailand a straight-sets demolition in the quarterfinals.
Competing in the quarter-finals before a large crowd of over 3,000
spectators in the Silapa-Archa Gymnasium, the Czech Republic were overjoyed when
they were the first team to secure a place in the semifinals on Saturday. The
Czechs performed superbly to topple Australia with a scintillating
come-from-behind 20-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-19 victory.
The second match was entirely a one-sided battle when Iran, whose height
average is 193cm against 186cm of Thailand's, overwhelmed the off-form home team in
straight sets 25-16, 25-22, 25-19, while Brazil stunned tall and towering
Russia in a hard-fought five-set thriller 25-22, 17-25, 25-19, 20-25, 17-15.
After both teams tied at 2-2, Russia, with 204cm-tall Alexei Ojigavov
and 202cm Roman Danilov taking turns smashing spectacularly, took a
commanding 13-10 lead, before the gallant Brazilians counter-attacked
relentlessly to gain point by point to force deuce at 13-13.
The on-going battle gained tempo from then onwards, with the lead changing hands
several times. However, the Brazilians showed more consistency to win
the hard-fought tiebreaker 17-15.
Russia, who landed the world title in 1999 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, did
not drop a single set en route to the quarter-finals. However, the crucial loss
on Friday cost them dearly as they totally dashed their dreams of capturing
their second world title. Above all, they did not even make it to the
semi-finals. Suffering the bitter loss on Friday, the bronze medallists in
2001, left the arena with their heads low in despair, some in
The last team making the cut for the semi-finals on Saturday was in-form
India. The Asian champions used technique and tactics to
breeze past Puerto Rico in straight sets 25-17, 25-14, 25-11.
In the play off for minor places Australia next take on Russia and Thailand challenge Puerto Rico in the
5th-8th classification round, while the Czech Republic go up against Brazil and
Iran revive their fortunes against old foe India, to whom they lost 1-3 sets
in the final showdown at the India-hosted Asian Championships last April, in
In the Thailand-Iran encounter, the die was cast from ball one. Despite putting up a brave fight, Thailand was no
match for the much stronger Iranians, where the visitors
captured a semi-final berth.
“Despite the loss, I’m happy that my team already hit the target of making
it to the quarter-finals," Thailand head coach Apichart Kongsawat said "I admit that we made too many unforced
mistakes, particularly on receiving and blocking. Iran proved their
supremacy on their excellent teamwork and well-structured and tactical
offence. They are so strong that we could not make a good match against
"In the next match against Puerto Rico, I think we have to maintain our
form. We lost to them in straight sets in the group round-robin
preliminaries and I don’t think we will face the same fate on Saturday."