(IranSportsPress.com-TehranTimes)- Defending and seven-time champions Iran brushed off Thailand in comfortable straight sets 25-16 25-19 25-19 to advance to the semi-finals of the 11th Asian Boys’ U19 Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium and book a berth to contest the 2017 FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship in Bahrain in August.
Iran, which had already suffered two losses in the top-flight tournament including a straight-set letdown to Korea in their opening match, made use of their greater experience and height advantage to attack devastatingly and block effectively for the first two-set win 25-16 25-19.
Conceding two straight sets, Thailand pulled their game together and started to produce the goods by catching up with the Iranians at 13-13 and again 17-17. However, Iran still had enough in their tank. Powerful Morteza Sharifi and Ali Tabari combined well in firing aggressive attacks the Thais found too difficult to cope with. Iran captured the set 25-19 and match.
Ali Tabari contributed 19 points for Iran including 17 kills. Morteza Sharifi added with 14 attack hits and 2 ace serves. Mahdi Jelveh Ghaziani led the team in blocking with 5 kill blocks. Chaiwat Thungkham led Thailand with 11 points.
After the match, Iran’s head coach Mohammad Vakili expressed satisfaction over his team’s performance. “It’s good to win this match because it was a very important match to give us life or death. To qualify to the World Championship is our main target and we did it at last. We did not underestimate any team although we learned that we are playing weaker teams like Thailand. To win each match in this level of competition is very important because these generations will have a chance to compete in the future’s Olympics.”
“After we lost to Korea and China, we tried to learn from the mistakes we made. In this match, we tried to reduce our mistakes. As I said, our first target is to qualify for the world meet and we had accomplished it. Our second goal is to defend our title. From Tuesday, we have a plan for the World Championship. The semi-finals and maybe, the final match in this championship, for us will serve as tune-up matches ahead the World Championship. However, I admit that our next match against Korea will be very hard. I won’t worry about the match, anyway. Korea will worry,” he added.
With the win, Iran keep their hopes of defending their title alive. Aside from clinching a berth to be pitted against Korea in the Tuesday’s semi-finals, Iran also qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championship in Bahrain this August. Thailand were relegated to the 5th-8th classification round. On Tuesday, the Thais will first take on hosts Myanmar, the team they had already beaten in straight sets.