Iran defend title at Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 6, 2013 – Nearly 5,000 people screamed, cheered and thumped their feet to spur Iran to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-19) triumph over a young and gritty Korea, for their second straight Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball crown at the Hamdan Sports Complex. With this title, Iran also secured a berth in the FIVB Men's Grand Champions Cup 2013, which will be held in Japan from November 19 to 24.
“We will not go by talk about form or who is stronger in the various departments.” Iran’s head coach Julio Velasco had said one day earlier. “Taking on South Korea will be a test of strength both mentally and physically even though we have the required all-round firepower. They have qualified for the world championship like us, so they are definitely among the top four sides in the continent and top 15 in the world.”
With a mixture of aggression in their spiking and structured two-hand blocks which were further cushioned by the reliable libero A.V. Frahad Zarif and the great retrieval work by all their players, Iran had to fight to the full to subdue the persistent Koreans.
With cheering of more than 3,000 supporters, Iran entered the initiative at the beginning. The team led 8-6 at the first technical timeout and the difference was extended to four at the second. Korea’s defence at the back area by their short players’ savings, which had been difficult to break when against other teams, was no longer enough to confront Iranian’s powerful attacks. Iran scored three points in a row to lead 19-12, causing Korea to call a timeout, which proved to be a delay before Iran finished the first set in 25-19.
The speed, agility and the fast tempo style of the Koreans did have its moments, but the Iranian block once again blunted the attacks with pin-point accuracy.
Iran’s No.7 player Hamzeh Zarini rocketed in an a fireball scud into the Korean floor off a serve in the second set and got another to send the Korean first receiver into an uncomfortable position to take Iran back from a three-point deficit to square matters at 21-all. This sent the partisan crowd into a frenzy and the clapping so loud as seldom heard in a sports event in UAE. Iran ran away 25-22 winners.
The young Koreans were not able to repeat what they did in the play off round to take one set from Iran, which is also the only one single set conceded by Iran throughout their eight-day extravaganza at the Hamdan SC and Al Nasr Club. In 19-25, they lost the third set and gave way to Iran to their second straight Asian Championship title.
“The victory in Teheran last time was sweet but outside the country here in Dubai, the title here has a special place in our hearts. My team played to their potential,” said Julio Velasco who has a showcase in his Argentine home, full of World Championship, World League and European nations cup trophies.
Korean coach Park Kiwon, on a wheelchair with a plaster cast after a ligament tear when he slipped while trying to avoid a deflected smash on the side line in the semis against Japan on Saturday evening, kept his lads in the game with several ploys and timely T/Os.
The Koreans sadly missed Jeon Kwangin tonight, who strained his shoulders during the marathon 5-set semis against China on Saturday night. This great universal smasher is the side’s mainstay in the raids.
Earlier in the evening, China, who occupied the silver berth at the previous edition, had to be satisfied with the bronze medal in the 17th chapter.
Chinese again lacked the presence of a live “Great Wall” for their defences, which the faster moving and more energetic Japanese capitalized on during their daring cross flank raids and fast tempo mode offensives. However, the China squad, who failed unfortunately in the five-set semi-final, would not like to go back home without any awards. Led by the best scorer Zhong Weijun, who won 24 points, they overcame a tenacious Japan 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20) in 100 minutes of cohesive and thrilling volleyball.
Australia slotted into fifth place with a 3-1 win (26-28, 25-14, 25-18, 26-24) against Thailand, who seemed to fade away after showing early promise in the championship. India finished in 7th spot with a 3-2 win (27-25, 23-25, 25-23, 21-25, 17-15) over Lebanon while Chinese Taipei defeated Kazakhstan 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 17-25, 25-16) to finish 9th. The host United Arab Emirates lost to Iraq in 1-3 and ranked the 14th.
Sunday’s final results
Sri Lanka v Uzbekistan (15th-16th) 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-20)
UAE v Iraq (13th-14th) 1-3 (19-25, 25-15, 23-25, 22-25)
Qatar v Bahrain (11th-12th) 3-2 (19-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-23, 15-12)
Kazakhstan v Chinese Taipei (9th-10th) 1-3 (23-25, 21-25, 25-17, 16-25)
Lebanon v India (7th-8th) 2-3 (25-27, 25-23, 23-25, 25-21, 15-17)
14:00pm Thailand v Australia (5th-6th) 1-3 (28-26, 14-25, 18-25, 24-26)
16:00pm Japan v China (3rd-4th) 1-3 (18-25, 22-25, 25-22, 20-25)
18:30pm Iran v Korea (1st-2nd) 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-19)
9. Chinese Taipei
14. United Arab Emirates
15. Sri Lanka
19. Sultanate of Oman
21. Saudi Arabia
Best Scorer: ZHONG Weijun (China)
Best Spiker: GHAFOUR Amir (Iran)
Best Blocker: MOUSAVI E. Seyed Mohammad (Iran)
Best Server: ZHONG Weijun (China)
Best Libero: ZARIF A.V. Frahad (Iran)
Best Setter: MAROUF L. Mir Saeid (Iran)
Most Valuable Player: MAROUF L. Mir Saeid (Iran)