Iran becomes third Asian team to qualify for 2014 Men's World Championship
At the conclusion of Pool B, Bahrain ranked second with a 2-1 record, followed by Indonesia with one win and Pakistan with no wins.
Going into the last match of Pool B, Bahrain and Iran were both undefeated with a ticket to the World Championship on the line.
Bahrain played well at the beginning of each set, but each time Iran took control. Captain and setter Mehdi Mahdavi was outstanding, while Iran’s double and triple block was a tough wall for Bahrain to pass. Ace services by Adel Gholami, Hamzeh Zarrini and Farhad Ghaemi put pressure on Bahrain’s reception and Iran were able to secure the vital win.
Iran’s top scorer was Hamzeh Zarramo with 12 points, while Fadhel Mohamed led Bahrain with six points.
“We had thought a lot, we had many plans but Iran had the experience and committed fewer mistakes,” Bahrain coach Nezar Alshakili said.
Bahrain’s Jasim Ahnabhan commented: “We did not lose to Iran; we lost to (Julio) Velasco. Iran have good technical staff and this had a powerful effect on their victory. We are a very young and promising team. I’m sure in the coming years, we will achieve better results.”
Iran’s captain, Mehdi Mahdavi disagreed with Ahnabhan’s comments. “I was annoyed by the words of the Bahrain player who said they did not lose the match to the Iranian team but to Velasco. Our team is working as a group. It is not based on the work of a single person. Team work is our base and Velasco is at the top.”
“I told my players not to become upset if Bahrain played better than us,” Velasco stated. “Just know what to do to become a winner. We started to hit good services and that brought good defence. Mehdi put speed to his sets and we played well. Asian teams have high motivation to win against us and I always say that Iran should be proud of this. From the start of my work in Iran, I had belief in my players that the mentality of the players is important.”
In the first match of the final day, Indonesia defeated Pakistan 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-19) in 64 minutes.
In the Asian Men’s Final Qualification Tournament, 16 teams have been split into four pools of four. Only the top team in each pool will earn a ticket to the World Championship, which will take place in Poland from September 3 to 21, 2014.
In addition to Iran, Australia and Korea have also earned berths in the World Championship.
The games in Pool C, consisting of China (hosts), India, Chinese Taipei and Saudi Arabia, will take place from September 20-22.