1206 GMT November 13, 2018
Iran conceded its first defeat at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League against the title-holder and one of the best teams in the world, said the Iranian side’s coach after losing the opener 1-3 to France.
Commenting on the French side in his post-match remarks, Igor Kolakovic added, “This was our first match at the FIVB men's Nations League and we played against France which was in good condition,” tasnimnews.com reported.
In addition, he said, they had great motivation to notch up a victory in front of their home fans.
“Nevertheless, we fought well and managed to win a set.”
After the second set, he said, Iran failed to improve its defensive performance, adding moreover, the team’s attacking performance was not convincing.
Commenting on his side’s upcoming fixtures, he said, “We need to play very well to win.”
He said he believes that France’s Earvin Ngapeth is one of the best players in the world, lauding also the performance of the French side’s setter Benjamin Toniutti.
Commenting on his side’s 3-1 victory against Iran, France’s coach Laurent Tillie said, “I found the Iranian team a little bit tired.”
He added, “However, we played very well.”
Regretting that the stadium was not full-packed, Tillie said, “We will do our best to attract as many spectators as we can to volleyball stadiums by putting in sparkling and wonderful performances.”
Lauding Iran’s setter, he added, “I like Saeid Marouf very much and I believe that he plays very well.”
He said he knows Iran’s players and thinks that they were not themselves and in good mood in the match.
Ngapeth provided the spark for France as the host began its inaugural FIVB men's Nations League campaign with a gritty 4-set victory (25-20, 24-26, 25-20, 25-17) over Asian powerhouse Iran.
This was an intriguing matchup between two high quality sides, but it was 2017 World League champion France which got the better of the Grand Champions Cup bronze medalist in front of its home crowd at the Kindarena Arena on the banks of the River Seine, although it was far from easy against determined opposition.
France had Ngapeth to thank for a commanding attacking performance which yielded 18 points, but its star man was also erratic with his serving uncharacteristically poor. Jean Patry (17 points) was also a menace, while setter Toniutti and libero Jenia Grebennikov were as influential as ever. Barthelemy Chinenyeze, who scored 8 spikes from 8 attempts, and Nicola Le Goff (9 points) also produced some big moments. France often utilized a 3-man blocking technique to great effect, but it was its extra attacking flair that gave the side the edge in a tight match.
Iran, which beat France for the first time last year on its way to a third-placed finish at the Grand Champions Cup –its first-ever podium finish at world level – provided plenty of power and style, while its blocking mirrored the quality of the French. Amir Ghafour was a scoring machine with 18 points – all of them spikes – while Seyed Mohammad Mousavi (9 points) and Milad Ebadipour (6 points) were also influential. Iran was terrific but was ultimately outgunned.