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Men's World Cup 2003 - Match description Info

Match description

France beat Japan 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-21) - duration 1:28
28-Nov, start time: 18:00, end time: 19:28 - Attendance: 12,000
France keeps their Olympic hopes alive
France's dream of claiming a World Cup medal and an Olympic qualifying ticket was kept alive on Friday after they grafted their way to a crucial straight sets victory over Japan in the Yoyogi Stadium in Tokyo.

The game shaped as a fascinating match up with France needing to win all of their remaining three matches to keep entertaining the thought of an Olympic qualifying berth while Japan, in front of a packed stadium, were out to reverse a five-game losing steak in their return to a venue where they won three straight at the start of the tournament.

Although Japan hadn't won since then and were carrying injuries, they still fought bravely in the first set and kept pace with the World Championship bronze medalists. Takahiro Yamamoto was his usual attacking best but France's organization and flair in the end took its toll with Philippe Barca-Cysique unforgiving on the spike, libero Hubert Henno sparkling in defence while MIP Stephane Antiga was wonderfully accurate in general play. It was Antiga who had the honour of finishing off the first set with a well executed spike.

Injury trouble struck the French in the second set when at 4-3 ahead, setter Mathias Patin dived into the advertising hoardings and sprained his ankle. With him off the court Loic De Kergret did just as good a job and France were up 15-13 before an ace from Barca-Cysique gave the Tricolors a 21-16 lead. Japan's game was summed up when Yamamoto spiked long to give France the set and highlighted the crucial mistakes they were making at vital times.

Despite a rearranged lineup France still had momentum and took it into the third set where they opened a 9-5 lead. Barca-Cysique was so confident on attack by this stage he nearly returned a 100% return every time while Marc Schalk and captain Dominique Daquin were fantastic on defence. But it was the constant flow of mistakes which stained Japan's performance and denied them a chance of reeling France in and it wasn't long before the Europeans had wrapped up their sixth win of the tourna