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 Press Release
Japan, Iran qualify for Italy 2010

Iran booked its ticket to Italy 2010 at the expense of Korea
Komaki, Japan, August 30, 2009 —There was a victory glow around the Japanese team and tears of joy for Iran, but a massive disappointment for Korea on the last day of the Asian Pool H qualification tournament for the 2010 FIVB World Championship at Park Arena Komaki on Sunday.

Japan (3-0) and Iran (2-1) took the two remaining tickets from Asia, but Korea (1-2) and Kazakhstan (0-3) will not be going to Italy next year after an emotion-packed final day of qualifying.

After finishing their three-match schedule with a 2-1 win-loss record by beating Kazakshtan, the Iranians had to wait for the result of Japan-Korea before knowing their fate.

And long before Japan completed a high-speed, power-packed 3-0 victory over Korea to finish with a perfect record, the Iranians were hugging each other and exchanging high-fives as they knew their ticket to Italy was secure.

When Japan scored the final point of their 25-23, 25-16, 25-22 victory, many of the Iranian players and staff wept with joy and relief at the end of a punishing three-day qualifying tournament.

Their head coach, Hossein Madani, summed up the feeling in the camp.

"I am very happy because it is the first time in history we are going to the World Championship by defeating one of the strongest teams in Asia - Korea," he said, reflecting on the importance of their opening-day 3-2 win over Korea after trailing 9-6 in the tiebreak.

"It is very good for the future of volleyball in Iran. It gives us a lot of confidence for the next matches against Japan and Korea."

Madani was full of praise for the Japanese players after their storming victory over Korea, having expressed his hopes for a "fair match" earlier in the day.

"I appreciate the Japanese players very much because they worked very hard and showed fair play," he added.

"It was very difficult for me to watch the game, especially in the first set, but the Japanese players did their best. I appreciate the players, the coach and the fans of Japan."

Japan delighted their fans in a full house of 5,000 with a one-sided win over Korea, possessing too much speed and too many whirlwind combinations for their great regional rivals. Master blaster Tatsuya Fukuzawa led the rout with 15 points, including 14 blistering spikes, and southpaw Kunihiro Shimizu was not far behind with 14 points, all flashing spikes from his lair on the right.

Middle blockers Kota Yamamura (10) and Yoshihiko Matsumoto (6) scored 16 points between them as they ruled the centre of the net, while inspirational all-rounder Yusuke "Gottsu" Ishijima contributed 11, including five crashing blocks. For Korea, Moon Sung-Min scored a team-high nine, suffering under the Japanese block.

Japan's head coach, Tatsuya Ueta, told the official press conference: "For three days all the players have been in the court, and we won three games in a row. That is the most satisfying aspect of our victory.

"From the World League this year I started to use Fukuzawa and Shimizu as two younger players and decided to keep them on court, and this has been very important for us in this qualifying tournament.

"Before this match we were thinking a lot about our blocking system, and the Korean team fell right into our trap."

Korea's captain, Kang Dong-Jin, said: "Through today's match I really felt how hard Japan has practiced. We must practice to the extreme in order to go to the top of Asia."

Coach Kim Ho-Chul added: "We have to accept this result most humbly. It is natural considering the present level of our team. Congratulations to Japan - and please keep playing this wonderful volleyball as a representative of Asia."

In the first match of the day, the Iranians were on course for a three-set blowout against Kazakhstan, meeting little resistance as they won the first two sets 25-18, 25-14.

But Kazakhstan found some fight and some points in the third set and won it 25-23, before Iran refocused and made their extra quality count in the fourth set, wrapping up the match 25-16.

Centre players Mohammad Mousavi (14 points) and Alireza Nadi (12) were as productive as usual, with Mousavi recording four of his team's 13 block points, and Mohammad Mohammad Kazem contributed 12 without ever hitting top form. Farhad Nazari gave Iran the lift they needed to close the game.

Kazakhstan replied with 16 points from Svyatoslav Miklashevich and 15 apiece from new captain Marat Imangaliyev and Alexandr Stoinkov. Imangaliyev took over as captain from Dmitriy Gorbatkov, who moved to libero in place of the injured Yuriy Stulov.

Iran's coach, Hossein Madani, described it as a very important match for his team.

 "The main problem for me was the motivation of the players after two heavy matches against Korea and Japan," he said.

"We lost a lot of energy in those two matches and the motivation was down. From last night I tried to speak to the players one by one and give them motivation because the next match was important, too.

"We needed the points difference; this was important for us and we did our best and tried to play without mistakes. It was a big chance for us because Kazakhstan had to use one of their best spikers as libero."

Kazakhstan's captain, Imangaliyev, said: "Today we sent the younger players into the court but they are not experienced enough yet. In the third set we were able to fight back, but when the Iran No. 12 (Nazari) came in they were able to regroup."

Kazakhstan coach Genadijs Parsins said he was impressed with the level of Iran. "This was my first game as a coach against Iran and I am very surprised at how strong they are. They played a very similar pattern to the Japanese team and played very speedily and have good tactics, like Japan. Especially the centre players of Iran have many variations in spiking. Yesterday we suffered our second defeat, so the motivation of the players went down. I wanted to win today 3-0 with a big difference in points, but we could not do it. Our level was too inferior to Iran."


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More press releases
29/08/2009 Two World Championship berths to be decided on final day
28/08/2009 Iran, Japan open with wins in Komaki
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24/08/2009 Japan ready to host Asian third round Pool H tournament

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