JIANGMEN (Xinhua) – Iran overwhelmed China in straight sets here on Sunday evening to win the Asian zone men’s volleyball Olympic qualification campaign, securing the last ticket of the continent to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Asian champions dominated at both ends to bag a 25-14, 25-22, 25-14 victory.
“I am so happy my players played very nice volleyball tonight, they deserved to represent Asia to play in the Olympics,” Iran coach Igor Kolakovic said after the match.
Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi had a match-high 16 points. China’s captain Jiang Chuan, who scored 23 points in the semifinal against Qatar, only had 13 in the final.
“Iran taught us a good lesson tonight,” Jiang said.
“They showed us the quality of Asia’s best team, we have a long way to go,” he added.
Eraghi’s powerful serve earned Iran a match point before the 29-year-old fired an ace to kill the match.
China got the only opportunity to win a set in the second when they were only 23-22 down and forced Iran to the only timeout in the match. But Eraghi’s block stifled China’s hope.
“We were not at our best tonight, I take the responsibility,” China coach Shen Fulin said.
“The players were under too much stress in such an important match,” he added.
The 65-year-old, who took charge of the team only two months ago, hinted that his job was already finished after the event.
“My contract with the Chinese Volleyball Association is due at the end of the event,” Shen said.
“The team needs to be polished in high-level matches. We should learn from Iran, most of their players are playing in the European leagues and they already get used to the physical and mental demand,” he added.