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Japan, Thailand bag crucial wins to reach Asian U20 quarterfinals

Qatar's Ratmt Wadidie has been one of the stars of the Asian U20 Championships so far
Manama, Bahrain, October 20, 2014 – Reigning champions Japan and fellow east Asians Thailand ensured their place in the quarterfinal of the 17th Asian Men’s U20 Volleyball Championship on Monday as the tournament continued in Bahrain.

The top two teams from the tournament will qualify for the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship taking place next year.

Thailand d Saudi Arabia 3-2 (21-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 15-11)
Thailand put on the biggest comeback of the Championship so far as they battled back from two sets down to beat Saudi Arabia in five, booking a place in the top eight in the process.

“We had a 2-nil lead, but we could not finish,” Saudi Arabia coach Georgi Petrov lamented. “There is a big difference between the teams here. Maybe the top five or six are very good to watch. It is not like Europe, where every team has to qualify.”

Saudi Arabia were slow to get going in their opening match against Bahrain but on Monday they appeared to run out of steam.

Thailand has impressed in their two outings and will provide a good test for host nation Bahrain on Tuesday night.

Chakkit Chandahuadong was a crucial player for Thailand, notching 22 points and helping his side to amass 71 spike points, compared to 41 for Saudi Arabia.

However they will have to improve their errors after faulting 41 times to Saudi Arabia’s 26.

Qatar d India 3-2 (23-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 15-13)
India coach Yadav Bir was confident of his side’s chances against Qatar after seeing off Hong Kong a day earlier, but he underestimated the side as they ran off five set winners.

India had a chance to win after taking a commanding lead in the fifth set only to let victory slip out of their grasp.

 “We had a lead of 8-4, but then we made too many mistakes,” Bir admitted. “Tonight we have seven points. If we beat Iran tomorrow we can go through to the top eight. I am confident my team can win tomorrow.”

Qatar coach Sattler Tine said it was obvious both teams were tense with so much at stake but was full of praise for his team’s effort and especially their revival in the decisive final set.

“I was not nervous, I was calm,” Tine said. “People around me were making the players nervous.

“At 4-8 down I was confident we could win. Many times before we have been behind, maybe three or four points down, and we have won. I just told the players to stay focused.”

For the third time at these championships, Ratmt Wadidie starred for Qatar, picking up another 23 points. But Qatar’s high-risk strategy also led to many errors – 41 in total and 13 more than India.

Japan d Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-18)
Japan continued its good form in Bahrain but coach Shingo Sakai was still not impressed with his young stars despite a convincing straight sets win.

“Kazakhstan had a good serve, and our serve receive was no good,” he said. “But the players modified their reception. I’m still not satisfied, we are having many problems and our technique is not good.”

While the serve reception let Japan down, their defence excelled, especially at the block.

“When this event started, I thought China and Korea would be the toughest teams, but now I think Bahrain and Qatar are also playing well,” Sakai added. 

Kazakhstan coach Oleg Kuznetsov said his team was never in the hunt.

“We celebrate Japan for making the top eight, Japan is a strong team,” he said. “We didn’t have our game tonight. We will try tomorrow to bring our game.”

Chinese Taipei d Uzbekistan 3-1 (25-11, 23-25, 25-20, 29-27)
An outstanding display of power from Hsing-Kuo helped Chinese Taipei claim a hard-fought win over a spritely Uzbekistan.

Hsing-Kuo won 25 points in four sets of volleyball, all through powerful spikes, nearly half of his team’s 60 spike points.

Uzbekistan struggled with the Chinese Taipei serve all game, allowing their opponents nine aces.

“The first set we won too easily, and then the next three sets were very hard,” Chinese Taipei coach Kuo-Yuan Lee said. “We lost too many important points, especially on our serve. Maybe we were lucky.

“We have been together as a team for only three months, so our teamwork is still not good.”

Uzbekistan coach Gennadiy Ponomarev said he was still proud of his team’s performance so far in Bahrain despite the latest setback.

“Our team played well, because Chinese Taipei is a very strong opponent,” he said. “Our team is in the Asian Cup for the first time, and I’m happy with the players.”

Iran d Turkmenistan 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-9)
Turkmenistan was never in the hunt against the powerful and undefeated Iranians, notching up 27 errors and struggling to deal with their opponents power serve.

The game stats spoke for themselves with Iran registering 32 spikes to Turkmenistan’s 20, nine blocks to one and seven serves to one.

“We have been getting better each match,” Iran coach Nafarzadeh Farhad said. “I think we played today better than our two matches before. Our team showed today they are prepared and ready, and they can play every element better.

“I’m satisfied today. They played very good volleyball.”

Pool D is by far the toughest group in Bahrain, a point not lost on Turkmenistan coach Yazgeldi Hojayev.

“This was a difficult match; we know Iran is the best team in Asia,” he said. “We knew that we would lose, but we were hoping to lose with a better score.

“This is a very difficult group. The groups are not equal.”

Having played Iran, India and Qatar, Turkmenistan player Usmanbek Kalandarov is in no doubt who will win the 17th Asian Under 20 title.

“Iran is the best team,” he said. “I think Iran is better than Qatar, I think Iran will play China in the final and Iran will win.”

Korea d Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-18)
A dominant defensive performance helped Korea ease to victory over Sri Lanka.

Korea’s block consistently held out Sri Lanka’s attacking moves, and scored 11 points in the process.

Sri Lanka’s speed once again proved challenging for their opponents, but Korean coach Jinsoo Noh said his team worked its way back into form after yesterday’s loss to China.

“The first set was very difficult because the Sri Lankan team was very fast,” he said. “The second set was okay, but I was satisfied by the third set.

“Yesterday’s game is yesterday’s game.”

Sri Lankan coach Jayasekara believes his team has come a long way in two years.

“We played each other two years ago,” he said.  “This time I think we fight hard, better than we did two years ago.

“My team is not as experienced as the Korean team. We fought well in the first set, but we made mistakes in the second and third set.”


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