Osaka, Japan, November 19, 2009 - Japan pulled off a sparkling 3-1 victory over Egypt in the night match of the second day of the FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup on Thursday. The home team improved their win-loss record to 2-0 with a 25-15, 22-25, 25-21, 25-17 victory in front of over 5,000 fans, as the African champions and tournament wild cards dropped to 0-2.
The match began at a frenetic pace, with Egypt looking sharp and business-like in attack while working hard to block out the threat of southpaw Kunihiro Shimizu. With their own southpaw, Ahmed Salah, crashing over some early blockbusters and also blocking Yusuke Ishijima, the Egyptians were ahead 8-5 at the first TTO. If anything, the Egyptians were in too much of a hurry and began to make errors as they forced their shots. Coupled with Japan settling down and finding some momentum, the home team forged ahead 14-11 to send the visitors into a TO. A Tomimatsu block on Salah highlighted Japan’s improved fortunes. Egypt continued to make mistakes on attack, whereas Japan built their moves more methodically and backed them up with excellent defence. At 20-12, Japan were in control, sending the African champions into a second TO. Shimizu blazed past Moneim’s attempted block for 22-14, and closed the first set 25-15 with his fourth spike of the opening frame.
Egypt had time to catch their breath for the second set, and middle blocker Abdel Latif tried to exert his influence at the net after struggling to find his range in the first set. Setter Ahmed Abdalla fired a trademark ace and the African champions nosed ahead 8-7 at the first TTO. A fiery Rashad spike at the net was followed by a rocket service ace from Salah for 13-11, and Japan needed a TO. The Egyptian lead grew to four points at the second TTO, and Japan replaced Ishijima with Yuta Yoneyama on the restart. When Shimizu was stopped in his tracks with another crashing block, Japan went off again at 18-13 and struggling to recapture their earlier form. Ahmed Aly kept up the pressure and Egypt took the second set 25-22 for 1-1.
Japan tried to regain control in the third set, and Shimizu helped them on their way with a service ace and a crashing spike, ably assisted by Fukuzawa. Japan led 8-6 at the first TTO. Saleh Fathy remained a constant danger to Japan, however, scoring consistently with his wide range of technical skills. A Shiro Furuta ace lifted Japan to 14-11 and sent Egypt into a TO, and he repeated the treatment on the resumption for 15-11. Japan led by four, 16-12, at the second TTO. An Abdalla ace reduced the deficit to one at 18-17, and he followed up with another rocket for 18-18. A floating ace from Matsumoto and a Yoneyama block put Japan back on course at 21-18, and Fukuzawa ended the third set 25-21 after Shimizu had brought up three set points; 2-1 Japan.
Early in the fourth set, Matsumoto caught out the Egypt reception again with another floating ace, and Japan led 8-7 at the first TTO. Moneim could always be relied upon to support Salah and Fathy in attack, and this combination kept Japan’s defence working hard to cover all the moves. Fukuzawa and Abdalla traded red-hot service aces as the set progressed, and Shimizu continued to blaze away down the right for a 16-12 lead at the second TTO. Fukuzawa stepped on the gas to move Japan closer to their target, and Matsumoto pounded one through at the net for 19-14. Then Shimizu took over on Japan’s right, taking the home team to within two points of victory at 23-17. Fukuzawa finished it off at 25-17, 3-1.