17th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship begins
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 28, 2013 - The UAE, playing hosts to a major international volleyball tournament after nearly two decades, barring the annual Rashid tourney, witnessed keen fare on the opening day of the eight-day 17th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championships on Saturday. The championship took place at the iconic Hamdan Sports Complex, which used to be a swimming stadium, but temporarily reconstructed as the volleyball court for the meet.
Pool A: Host UAE beat UZB 3-1
It was a great day for the hosts as they scored a 3-1 (25-21, 28-26, 22-25, 25-19) win against Uzbekistan in the final match of the day after a simple but sophisticated opening ceremony at the Hamdan Sports Complex.
A combination of short jabs and effective spiking from the left flank continuously had no answer from the inexperienced Uzbekistan team in the first two sets before the home lads went down in the third set.
Wiry Juma and setter Majid worked in fine combination to out think the Uzbek defence at the net and this was further supplemented by the timely digging of libero Fairoz for the UAE reds in the second and fourth sets.
UAE coach, veteran Grezegorz Rys of Poland who has been with the side for more than a year now, said, “Very pleased to be in the pre-quarter-finals though it was an expected thing after the last minute team withdrawals. It’s Thailand or Lebanon next in the pre-quarters depending on who finishes on top of Pool H. We played more cohesively during the crucial and tense moments where we had an advantage in our net drops and short lift smashes."
Uzbek coach Gennadiy Ponomarev, said, “Our inability to read the game better and poor receiving and distribution work in the crucial moments went against us.”
The Uzbeks are into the next round too as they finished runners-up in the 2-team Pool A. All the initial phase pools except G, H and A have a three-team setup.
Pool C: Iran works overtime to beat spirited Kazakhstan 3-0
A partial change to the original pool schedule was effected at the last minute as the 21-team event got off to a flying start with defending champions Iran working overtime at times to beat spirited Kazakhstan in Pool C.
Some great receiving and digging work earned the Iranians a 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-22) over the central Asians in the opening match at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon. Pool C also has the strong Kuwaitis in the fray.
The winner gets three points for a 3-0 winning margin. The event format allows for three points for those who win 3-0 and 3-1 and, two for a 3-2 win. Losers get one point if they go down 2-3 and zero points for a 1-3 or 0-3 loss.
The Iranians had the in-form Amir Ghafoor who led with a telling all-round display both at the net and in mid court. His retrievals and distribution skills spurred his attackers and the main setter.
Pool H: No-show Pakistan gives Lebanon walkover point
The opening match should have been played between Pakistan and Lebanon according to the original schedule. But the last withdrawal of Pakistan made it a bye for Lebanon in Pool H. The other side in this Pool are the fast moving Thais whose women team recently won the Asian crown.
Pool D: Young Chinese Taipei conquers Saudi Arabia 3-0
In the second game at the Hamdan SC on Saturday, young Chinese Taipei with half players born after 1990, played splendidly to surprise a slightly sluggish Saudi Arabia 25-20 in the first set before storming home for a 3-0 win.
The early phases saw an error prone yet determined young Taipei clinch the first set 25-20 which set them off to a commanding five-point cushion in the second before Saudi Arabia clawed back momentarily. Chinese Taipei slowly fought their way out of a partial Saudi fight-back to draw level midway in the set before running away with a 25-21 score.
Saudi Arabia saw their attackers and defence put pressure on Chinese Taipei in the closing stages of the third set when they fought hard to push the issue into 20-23 and 21-23 positions. The younger and far fitter Far Easterners had the match in their bag when they smashed their way past the desperate Saudi blocks for a 25-22 final outcome.
Pool G: India earn 3 points without play
In the revised playing plan at Al Nasr Club, the second venue, seeded India got three points thanks to a walkover from Indonesia who had withdrawn a fortnight ago. Jordan was the first to pull out some 17 days back.
Pool E: Sri Lanka knock out Oman 3-0
Sri Lanka caused a flutter at Al Nasr Club when they hoodwinked the better-rated Omanis in Pool E play during the mid-afternoon session. The 3-0 scoreline (25-21, 25-15, 25-19) in favor of the islanders will be a big encouragement for the fan support in the UAE.
In the other two matches, Bahrain beat Myanmar 3-1 (25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22) in almost two hours to earn 3 points in Pool B, while Iraq claimed an easy win over Afghanistan in 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-17) in Pool F.
Matches on Sunday (September 29)
All UAE times (GMT + 4)
At Hamdan Sports Complex:
12:00pm: Qatar v India
2:00pm Kuwait v Iran;
4:00pm S. Korea v Iraq;
6:30pm China v Saudi Arabia
At Al Nasr Club, Karama
Only 2 matches from 4pm onwards because of walkovers
12:00pm UAE w/o Jordan;
2:00pm Thailand w/o Pakistan;
4:00pm Australia v Bahrain;
6:30pm Japan v Oman