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First-Ever World Medal for Iran Volleyball

Iran took the bronze medal and finished the games with honor and distinction winning four out of five matches against world giants Italy, France and the US as well as its old arch-rival Japan
Iran players rejoice after defeating France and taking a bronze medal.Iran players rejoice after defeating France and taking a bronze medal.

Iran national volleyball team won its first-ever medal at a world-level tournament after defeating France 3-2 at the FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup at the Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium, Japan, on Sept. 17.

Before the final day of the tournament, Iran was ranked third on the Champions Cup table above the US. In the first match of the last day of the games, the US lost to Italy (1-3) so even if Iran would lose to France, winning the bronze medal was assured for the squad from Tehran.

However, Iran did a great job and beat the 2017 World League champion France in a close match and temporarily climbed to second position ahead of Brazil and just below Italy.

According to the tournament website, Iran and France had an intense duel in the opening set, which had to be decided with a two-point margin. Iran got better breaks and closed the set 38-36. The second set was another tight occasion but Iran prevailed with the help of Amir Ghafour and Mohammad Javad Manavinezhad.

The French retaliated with victories in the next two sets. But Iran regained its composure and celebrated victory coming in the fifth set.

Important Win

Iran's Montenegrin coach Igor Kolakovic called the match "a very interesting and high-quality volleyball game" and said, "after the game between the US and Italy, we knew we already had the bronze medal, but my players wanted to finish the tournament with a victory. So that makes me happy".

"This is very important because the (Iranian) people have supported their national team and they deserve this medal as much as the players. This first medal for Iran is very important, and it provides us with extra motivation for the next season and for our young players.”

After the win, Iran waited for the ultimate match of the competition between the host Japan and 2016 Rio Olympics winner Brazil, which would define the color of the medal for Iran.

On paper, Iran had a chance of winning silver if Japan had beaten Brazil. Japan, which had lost all matches to rivals, was last on the ranking table, so for them winning over Brazil was like a dream that did not come true.

Brazil easily downed Japan in three consecutive sets to claim the title of the 7th World Grand Champions Cup and prevent Iran from getting a silver. Standing on the second position, Italy collected the silver medal leaving the bronze for

Iran.

Excellent Performance

Iran finished the games with an excellent performance, winning four out of five games and wrapping up the tough tournament with only one defeat against powerhouse Brazil. During the games Iran overpowered world giants Italy, France and the US as well as its old arch-rival Japan.

Iran’s third participation resulted in their best ever finish at the World Grand Champions Cup, after finishing fifth in 2009 and fourth in 2013.

Iran's victory over France was also the first time it managed to defeat the European team. During the past five competitions at the global level, France was the winner.

Although Iran has been the Asian champion for several years, the nation's best performances at the world level before now was a fourth rank which was achieved at their first ever appearance in World League finals in 2014 as well as in the 2013 World Grand Champions Cup.

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