Tehran, Iran, August 7, 2015 – Powerhouses Japan, which had won the Asian crown for seven times, fought back from the first-set down 22-25 to Qatar to brush off the tough rivals in the remaining three sets 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 and book a final berth in the 18th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship.
It is the 11th final showdown the Japanese have entered since they made their debut in the 1975 final. The Lady Luck was with Japan en route to their final showdown this time. Japan actually beat only Bahrain and Sri Lanka in their pool preliminaries, but did not win a match in their second round Pool F clash.
However, a stunning victory over Korea in the quarter-finals gave life to Japan. The more they won, the more the Japanese were successful. That’s what counts for another crucial win of Japan over the Qataris in the Friday’s semi-finals. As for Qatar, which finished a distant 11th in the previous episode in Dubai, the UAE two years ago,coming this far in the Asian meet in Iran was satisfactory. Win or loss, their performance this time will be the Qatar’s best ever.
Qatar’s coach, Juan Cichello: “The rules of the games allowed Japan to be in the final showdown with three losses. Before the match, we knew we were going to have a difficult job against Japan. I congratulate Japan on this win. I’m very upset for the result but the Japanese were more experienced than us and have been in the Olympic Games, the World League and the Asian Games for many times before. I don’t think the pressure of the championship caused the loss to our team this time. As I said before, my players came to top four for the first time in history. My players then a little bit suffered difficult situations during the competition. But from this moment, we should get ready to think of the future games. There were a lot of Iranian fans in the arena cheering the Japanese team and it is crowded here which can interfere our job. Iran troubled many big teams in this arena but this is not a good excuse for our loss.
On comparing Qatar and Iran: “I can’t compare these two teams. I experienced some very beautiful moments beside Iran team. Just consider that Iran came to this tournament with their second-string team and the other 14 men rest for the World Cup, while our team came to this tournament with all our players. Nonetheless, both teams reached the quarter-finals. I became the champions in 2011 with Iran but now everything has changed and the players have progressed. Our players tried so hard to reach this level.
Qatar’s captain, Ibrahim Ibrahim: “We didn’t have a good performance in this match. We made a lot of mistakes and Japan team took the benefit out of it.
Japan’s coach, Masashi Nambu: “My players were really good in their reception. Qatar also defended well but we managed to stop them. (about the final match) the opponent is not important. We have our own plans in any match. I also appreciate my Iranian assistant coach who is of big help for me.
Japan’s captain, Kunihiro Shimizu: Qatar is really good at service. We changed the result as we performed well at the reception and this allowed us a decisive win.”