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Volleyball heavyweights eye Asian U20 Championship gold

lated but relieved China after beating Korea on Friday
The two most outstanding teams of the 17th Asian U20 Men’s Volleyball Championships lock horns Saturday to determine the 2014 gold medalist.

Iran and China have been a cut above the rest of the competition, in consistency, style and ability. It makes predicting a champion almost impossible.

China has a height advantage that has caused big problems for all its opponents. Five players clock in at over 200 cm, giving the team lots of attacking options and, as Korea found out, an almost impenetrable wall.

However, Iran also has five players 200 cm or taller, making for an intriguing matchup.

Iran has power and agility on its side. At times in Bahrain it has come up short, but such lapses have only been momentary.

The team’s ability to rally from adversity has distinguished itself from the rest. As Bahrain coach Ali Ridha observed, Iran knows how to win a set once it gets to 20 points.

The key for Iran will be finding a way to nullify Zhejia Zhang and the prolific Xiaoyong Wang. Chinese coach Genyin Ju has named Wang as one of the under-performers after the past two games, so he is due for a big final.

Iran will once again rely heavily on the on-court leadership of captain Mohammadjavad Manavinezhad.

Bahrain will be looking to finish on a high when it takes on Korea for the bronze. Both teams are entitled to feel a little surprised they are in this position, so will feel they have nothing to lose.

The noisy home crowd will be a big bonus for Bahrain, although Korea has also enjoyed good, vocal support all week.

Korea’s experience in big matches may be the factor that eventually splits these two teams.


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