China and Iran to play for gold in Asian youth championship
Iran made it to the final with an epic effort to overcome Japan. Their match lasted five sets and over two hours, finally ending 3-2 (29-27, 23-25, 23-25, 25-22, 15-5) in favour of Iran. More than 1,000 spectators were there, cheering on the home team.
In the final tie-break set, two faulty spikes and two spoiled serves from Japan helped Iran build a 12-3 lead, pulling away for the first time in a match that saw both teams stay in lock-step the whole way through. This late lead proved insurmountable, and Iran took the set 15-5.
“In the last set our players did not feel well – they were thinking defensively, but good serves from Iran took this option away from us,” said Japan coach Honda Hiroshi. “Iran were good, they served well and our physical energy was down.”
“Our defence was weak, and Iran’s fighting spirit was high,” Japan captain Hishara Tsubasa said. “Iran’s tall players put in a good performance, the spectators also helped Iran’s team. Our play rhythm did not change, but Iran got stronger and won the match.”
“First of all I am thankful to all the players and my assistant coaches Lahooti and Nouri, they did much help to me with precise substitutions in the right moments,” said Iran coach Iraj Mozzafari, who is also an ex-captain and star player with Iran’s national team. “Our Service was good and we had several great double blocks over the net. Japan was playing very well, especially their two speedy hitters numbers nine [Ishikawa Yuki] and two [Takashi Kentaro]. But our good service and sound block won the match.”
Takashi of Japan and Hekmati Javad of Iran were the game’s top scorers, with 26 and 20 points respectively.
In the other semifinal match, two powerful East Asian teams played each other to determine who would face Iran. Korea took the first set 25-23 and second 25-21, but could not maintain their tempo. All of sudden in third, it seemed the Korean players were losing energy and they dropped the set to China 18-25. Korea then ceded the fourth set 13-25, leading to a tie-break that they lost 8-15. China’s 3-2 (23-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-13, 15-8) win puts them in the final against host team Iran.
Zhang Zhejia recorded 20 points for China and Jo Jae-Sung scored 15 for Korea.
“Because these players are so young, their mental power is not stable,” said China coach Ju Gengyin. “We did our best today, and they also gave very good performance. All these matches are exercises for the players and by getting experience they will be good players in the future. Control of match in first and second sets was with the Korean team but in other sets we had the control and became the match winner.”
“First of all I would like to thank all players of both teams,” said Korea coach Kim Young-Il. “China team is a great team. Player number one of China [Zhang Zhejia] had high spikes, and their setter was very good. Korean players played well, but in sets two and three our stability went down. For the time being China is the top class team in the world. During the match our team’s stamina suddenly disappeared.”
Regarding tomorrow’s match with Japan, Kim said: “The first thing is the physical power of our team. Japan is good team. Our captain (Jeong Dong-Geun) was injured this morning. So we did not have him in our match against China and we will not have him in our match against Japan. We will prepare for the match with the rest of our players.
In the consolation matches, Australia beat Kazakhsten in straight sets (25-18, 25-16, 25-19), Chinese Taipei defeated Thailand 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-13) and Sri Lanka surprised India with a 3-1 (25-21, 17-25, 32-30, 25-20) victory.
“Today we showed good blocking and defence,” said Australia coach Grant Robertson. “We were a little bit better than yesterday. We were in tough pool, and in term of experience that is good for the players. I was expecting to be among the top eight teams. Our left-hand spiker Samuel Walker and Malchi Murch were our best players.”
Australia secured 9th rank with the win, and Kazakhstan finished 10th.
“We had two injured players, but I asked the team to relax and not to worry about last night’s performance,” said Thailand coach Khjhorn Manapornchai after his team’s loss. “Chinese Taipei is a good team. Our mentality and concentration were down, so we could not give a good performance on the court. For tomorrow’s match I predict we will win and finish 7th in the championship.”
Chinese Taipei coach Chiu Pao-Szu said he gave similar advice to his team: “Before the match I told my players to forget the loss against Japan. Keep cool and calm, do not think about the lost match, just try to do your best. We had good blocks, spikes and serves. Our reception and digs were acceptable.”
“Before the competition I was thinking we would be among the top four teams,” said Chinese Taipei captain Hsieh Yi-Ting. “But we could not do it. But tomorrow, by winning our last match, we will get 5th rank in the championship.”
Korea’s Lee Hsiong-Kou was the top scorer with 11 points while Tangchow Sorrawit of Thailand led his team with nine.
Taking four sets and 98 minutes, Sri Lanka overcame India 3-1 (25-21, 17-25, 32-30, 25-20) and earned the right to play for 5th place against Chinese Taipei.
Thursday November 1 is the final day of matches and ranks will be determined as follows:
Thailand v India – winner will rank 7th and loser 8th
Chinese Taipei v Sri Lanka – winner will rank 5th and loser 6th
Korea v Japan – winner will rank 3rd and loser 4th
China v Iran – winner will rank 1st and loser 2nd
By finishing in the top four, China, Iran, Japan and Korea have qualified for the 2013 FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship.