Qatar produced an epic 3-2 comeback victory over title-holders Iran in the quivering final showdown of the 6th AVC Cup for Men at the University of Taipei (Tianmu) Gymnasium yesterday.
The hard-fought 23-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-18, 15-10 win earned Qatar their maiden title at this top-flight competition. More importantly, this was the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2008 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, that Qatar had made it to the last-four with a remarkable unbeaten record.
Yesterday’s final clash saw Qatar and Iran enter the court with confidence as both sides were yet to lose a match in the tournament.
Both teams proved to be in red-hot form, trading heavy blows from the very beginning of the first set. Iran’s efficient blocks helped them take the lead at 6-5.
Mubarak Dahi Waleed’s effort in spiking and blocking helped Qatar to keep up with Iran as the set was tied at 23-all. However, a timeout called by Iran disturbed Qatar’s rhythm and Iran clinched the close set 25-23.
Iran maintained their advantage in blocking in the second set as they led all the way to a 25-21 win.
Unwilling to yield, Qatar punched back at the beginning of the third set with a 3-0 lead. Iran fought it back later and were just one point behind at 18-19. However, Qatar answered with their better organised blocking and snatched the set 25-22.
In the fourth set, Qatar took an early lead 8-4 and widened it to 16-7 with unstoppable attacks before bagging the comfortable set 25-18.
In the decider, both teams scored their first point impressively. Left behind 1-4, Iran called a timeout but in vain as Qatari’s unstoppable cannon-like spikes penetrated the Iran defence. Following a crispy block, Qatar grasped the tie-breaker 15-10 and the championship of the 6th AVC Cup for Men.
“We are very excited now. We always believed that we could win the championship. The main reason we could win the Cup is our attitude for every game. We never give up. Every player did his job well, and we worked consistently as a team,” commented by Qatar head coach Camilo Soto.
Ribeiro Renan contributed 20 points for Qatar, while for the losing side, captain Esfandiar Amirhossein chipped in with a match-high 22 points, and Yali Porya scored 20 points including 18 attacks from 41 attempts and 2 blocks.
As Qatar stamped their authority over the championship, Iran picked up runners-up place, failing in their efforts of retaining the title. Japan grabbed bronze medal, similar to their effort in the previous edition in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, two years ago, while hosts Chinese Taipei clinched fourth position.
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