Art And Culture

Iran Volleyball Team Beat Italy in Epic Game

Iran coach Igor Kolakovic: We made the first surprise and have opportunities to make surprises in the coming days when we play the US, Brazil, France and Japan
Iran players and coaching team celebrate after the victory
Iran players and coaching team celebrate after the victory

Italy in their first match of FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup at the Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan, on Tuesday.

In a breathtaking game, Iran gained a 3-2 victory against powerhouse Italy winning the first, third and fifth sets, 25-19, 28-26 and 15-11 respectively and losing the second and fourth sets 23-25 and 29-31.

The 2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup, the 7th edition of the tournament, is underway in Japan with six of the world’s top volleyball teams battling for the title.

The competitors are the number one team from the highest ranked continents at the Rio 2016 Olympics games including Iran, France, Brazil and the US plus host Japan and wildcard Italy.

According to the tournament website, Iran players Amir Ghafour and Milad Ebadipour’s fiery performance sparked the tough 3-2 victory for which Iran earned two points and Italy got consolation with one point. Ebadipour and Ghafour registered 21 and 20 points to lead the Iranian sdie.

  Hopes and Surprises

After edging Italy, Iran’s Montenegrin coach Igor Kolakovic said that they have an opportunity to make surprises against strong teams. “We played against a great opponent, one of the best teams in Europe. We arrived here with some hopes and dreams and would like to make some surprises against stronger teams than us in the world. We made the first surprise and we have opportunities to make more in the coming days as we play the US, Brazil, France and Japan,” he said.

“The US won the Olympic bronze medal, Brazil won gold, Japan are very strong when they play on home turf, and France are World League champions, so every day we have an opportunity to make a surprise,” Kolakovic said.

  Under Pressure

Iran captain Saeid Marouf also expressed joy on the victory. “We played under immense pressure and had opportunities to close it out in the fourth set, but could not do it. In the fifth set, we played with fewer mistakes but I cannot say I am satisfied with the team. We can do better”.

“We had a bad World League (where Iran finished 11th among 12 teams in June), so we were under a lot of pressure. I have played a long time for the national team and had both good and bad days. We have been playing in the World League for the last few years…Now we are playing with the top teams of the world and learn a lot from them,” he noted.

The opening game of the tournament was between Brazil and France on Sept. 12 just before Iran’s match. Brazil trounced France in three consecutive sets: 27-25, 27-25 and 25-22. Host Japan and the US confronted in the third match of the day and the American side clinched an easy victory in three successive sets: 25-21, 25-18 and 25-13.  

Grand Champions Cup, is a quadrennial international men’s volleyball tournament organized by the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (commonly known as FIVB). Iran did not qualify in the first four editions of the games. In the fifth edition in 2009, Iran finished 5th and in 2013 got 4th place.

  On the Rise

Iran volleyball has improved considerably over the past decade and has  entered world-class tournaments with great performances honored with titles and medals.

Iran has twice won the Asian Championship in 2011 and 2013. It also took gold  at the Asian Games in Korea in 2014. In their 5th presence at the World Championship, Iran came in 6th. They finished 8th in the World Cup 2015. Since 2013, Iran has entered the World League every year and their best achievement was in 2014 when they finished fourth.

Iran made it to the Olympic Games for the first time in their history in 2016 as the top ranked Asian squad at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan. They finished at 5th place in the Olympics.

On the second day of the current World Grand Champions Cup, Iran will face the US on  Sept. 13.


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