PRESS RELEASE 21.11.2009

Japan on verge of claiming first FIVB medal for 32 years

Tatsuya Fukuzawa on attack against a very impressive Iranian side which has won many new admirers with their performances at the FIVB Men's World Grand Champions Cup 2009

Nagoya, Japan, November 21, 2009 – Hosts Japan put themselves within a whisper of a podium finish in an FIVB event for the first time since the 1977 World Cup after claiming their third victory from as many matches on day three of action at the FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup 2009 in the Nippongaishi Hall on Saturday. Japan beat Iran in an outstanding evening match 3-2 (27-25, 18-25, 25-23, 20-25, 16-14) while defending champions Brazil also remain unbeaten after beating Poland 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-18) and Cuba overcame Egypt in a five set thriller 3-2 (25-17, 23-25, 25-14, 23-25, 15-7).

With two days of competition remaining, Brazil and Japan lead the standings with three wins from three followed by NORCECA champions Cuba (2:1), while Iran are fourth with one win and Egypt and Poland still search for their first victory. With Brazil and Cuba favourites to win their remaining games, Iran, who face Poland and Cuba in their last two matches, can only medal if they win both their matches and Japan loses to Cuba and Brazil, at which stage Iran and Japan would be separated on points ratio.

Brazil beat Poland 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-18)
World number one Brazil stayed on course for a third FIVB World Grand Champions Cup title by sweeping Poland in the first match. In a rematch of the one-sided 2006 World Championship final in Tokyo, which Brazil claimed 3-0, the South American champions only conceded 52 points in the straight sets win. “Today we played very well, especially defence and blocking, and that is why we could take the Polish team’s power away,” Brazilian libero Sergio said. “We also received well. After the two games in Osaka we learned a lot, and that was one factor for today’s win.”
“On behalf of the team I want to say sorry to the fans, that we were not able to take the match and play as we can;” Poland captain Michal Bakiewicz said. “We hope the next two matches are much better.”

Cuba beat Egypt 3-2 (25-17, 23-25, 25-14, 23-25, 15-7)
Cuba held off Egypt in a magnificent match with the NORCECA champions claiming victory to improve their win-loss record to 2-1. Egypt, who played superbly but lost their way in the tiebreaker, slipped to 0-3 overall for the tournament.  “Today’s game was so tough and hard for us,” Cuban universal Michael Sanchez said. “I thought we would win easily before the match and during the first and second sets, but that was wrong and it was why we had to play a five-set match.”

Japan beat Iran 3-2 (27-25, 18-25, 25-23, 20-25, 16-14)
Japan repeated their Asian Championship final victory in October by beating the mightily impressive Iran in five sensational sets in front of 8,000 screaming fans to spark joyous scenes of celebration. The hosts improved their win-loss record to 3-0 to put themselves on the verge of a medal for the first time in 32 years. Iran, who saved two match points in the tiebreak before losing it on an attack error after a tense and scrappy rally, dropped to 1-2 but won many new admirers with a fast and spirited display. "I was so relieved to win," Japan captain Daisuke Usami said. "We had to be patient during the game, and take the points one by one. We are so exhausted, but finally we could do it."

Schedule for Day Five: Egypt v Brazil (12.30), Iran v Poland (14.30), Japan v Cuba (18.00)

For more info: Richard Baker - FIVB Deputy Communications Director
Mobile in Japan: +81 (0)80 1311 9988 or press@fivb.org