Tehran, Iran, August 8, 2015 – Indomitable Japan stamped their supremacy over the 18th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship after stunning defending successive two-time champions Iran in dramatic four sets in the Saturday’s final showdown, as China struggled hard to beat Qatar in the hard-fought third-place playoff.
Japan’s exceptional win not only smashed Iran’s dreams of making it three times in a row at home, but also avenged the Iranians for their 1-3 loss in the final clash of the last year’s Asian Games volleyball competition in Korea, where the Iranians annihilated Japan 3-1 to claim the Games title.
Fired-up Japan reign supreme after stunning title-holders Iran 25-17 25-22 18-25 25-22
En route to their Saturday’s final, world No.21 Japan have already captured the Asian title for seven times out of 10 finals they had entered including the 2009 edition in Manila, the Philippines, where the Japanese and Iran set up a final showdown for the first time and the former powered past the latter 3-1 to win the crown.
In front of a large crowd of home audience packing the 12,000-seater Azadi Sport Complex Hall 1, Iran and Japan both fielded their strong line-up. As Iran sent in the pick of the bunch including Fayazi Damnabi Purya, Sharifat Mostafa, Zarini Hamzeh and Pirout Pour Farhad, Japan were also represented by the cream of the crop. Among them were Kunihiro Shimizu, Fukatsu Hideomi and Yanagida Masahiro.
Japan took the thrilling opener 25-17 and went on their attacks to win the hard-fought second set 25-22 for a commanding 2-0 advantage, needing only one set win to wrap up the match. However, Iran proved that victory never comes easily. With Pirout Pour Farhad attacking devastatingly at the net, Iran snatched the third-set win 25-18. Nonetheless, the Iran’s delight did not last long as Japan covered the court marvellously with consistency and a will to win. Their more determination bore fruits later on. Kunihiro Shimizu methodically tore the Iranian defence into shreds with his exceptional attacks and Shimizu also combined well with Dekita Takashi to produce solid blocking. The Japanese captured the hotly-contested fourth set 25-22, the match and their 8th Asian title.
The Japan’s victory in the Asian meet came in 1975, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995, 2005, 2009 and 2015 aside from the second-place finish in 1989, 1997 and 2007. Iran captured the Asian crown in 2011 and 2013, while they lost to Japan in the 2009 showdown in Manila.
Japan’s coach Masashi Nambu commented after the final match, “I’m very happy that we defeated Iran to become the champions of Asia. We need to do a lot of things to cope well with the Iranian tactics. As far as I’m concerned, Iran are always strong no matter what team they were sending to a tournament. Ahead of the competition here, we lost one of our best players due to injury. Anyway, missing him did not affect our team’s performances. On the other hands, we became better and better during the competition.
Iran’s coach Peyman Akbari said, “It was a difficult match. I congratulate the Japanese team for the victory. We were playing against the rivals with a lot of experiences from the World League and world-class competitions. We tried to do our best but my players were unexperienced and exhausted from the tough match against China the previous day. In all, Japan was better than us in every aspect. I wanted my team to play with the same players as the previous match, but many of them are very exhausted.”
In-form China pull off a hard-fought five-set victory over Qatar in the third-place playoff
World No.17 China, which finished third at the previous episode in Dubai, the UAE two years ago, remained at the same position this time when they managed to beat Qatar in closely-contested, 126-minute five sets 25-23 25-19 21-25 24-26 15-9.
Commenting on the match, China’s coach Xie Guochen said, “I appreciate Qatar team for displaying such a spectacular match. I also would like to thank Iranian fans who support us in the Hall, causing much of excitement in the match.”
Qatar’s coach Huan Cichello said, “Congratulations to China. I also wanted to thank my team who came this far this time. It’s for the first time in history that we finished fourth place, our best performance in this top-flight competition.”
Australia power past Chinese Taipei to claim 5th place
World No.13 Australia, which captured their lone Asian title in 2007, finished fifth in this championship after beating spirited Chinese Taipei in impressive four sets 32-30 25-15 21-25 25-22.
Australia’s coach Roberto Santilli expressed dissatisfaction over his team’s result. “I am not satisfied with my team finishing the fifth place. This is my first Asian experience in this tournament with this team. However, I admit that it was a tough match against Chinese Taipei because they did not accept any loss easily. My players are young and I am spending a very short period of time with them. Their lack of experience as well as a major difference in Asian and European style of playing has made it much harder for us. I’m convinced that the volleyball style of the East Asian is traditional.”
Chinese Taipei’s coach, Chen Ke-Chou said, “I’m happy with my players’ form because they fought hard with full spirits in every match. My team has already performed very well in a university tournament before the Asian Championship. Certainly, this made my players very tired. More importantly, they are very young bearing not many enough experience. So it is all okay.”
Korea send Thailand packing in straight sets to finish 7th, their worst performance ever in Asian Championship
Formidable Korea, world No.16, the current AVC Cup title-holders which finished second place in the previous edition in Dubai, brushed off Thailand 25-22 25-18 25-22 in the 7th-8th place playoff. The convincing win handed Korea the 7th position, regarded as their worst performance in history of their participation in the Asian meet.
Commenting on his team’s performance, Korea’s coach Moon Younhkwan said, “We performed very well on services and attacking. Yet, this is not what Korea deserves. Some crucial losses destroyed our early target.”
Thailand’s coach Monchai Supajirakul said, “I’m satisfied with the overall result of my team this time. My players performed well against the powerful teams and did their best for every single point. I think, friendly matches will have improve our level in Asia. The more we stand a chance of taking part in those matches, the more experience we will obtain.”
SATURDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
7th-8th: Korea b Thailand 3-0 (25-22 25-18 25-22)
5th-6th: Australia b Chinese Taipei 3-1 (32-30 25-15 21-25 25-22)
3rd-4th: China b Qatar 3-2 (25-23 25-19 21-25 24-26 15-9)
Championship match: Japan b Iran 3-1 (25-17 25-22 18-25 25-22)
- Chinese Taipei
- Sri Lanka
BEST OUTSIDE SPIKER 1: Fayazi Damnabi Purya (Iran No.1)
BEST OUTSIDE SPIKER 2: Zarini Hamzeh (Iran No.7)
BEST MIDDLE BLOCKER 1: Zhang Zhejia (China No.1)
BEST MIDDLE BLOCKER 2: Sharifat Mostafa (Iran No.2)
BEST OPPOSITE SPIKER: Pirout Pour Farhad (Iran No.17)
BEST SETTER: Fukatsu Hideomi (Japan No.13)
BEST LIBERO: Sakai Daisuke (Japan No.2)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Shimizu Kunihiro (Japan No.1)