Iran powered past host China in its last match in Group A of the Men's Continental Tokyo Volleyball Qualification to face South Korea in semifinals.
On Thursday, the Iranian squad defeated its East Asian rival 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-11) in Jiangmen, China.
Iranians take on South Koreans today in the same city. The other semifinal match will be played between Qatar and China later in the day.
Following China win, Iran’s captain Saeid Marouf said the match against South Korea is very important.
He stressed that, “We have to win this match and has nothing to lose.”
On his side’s game against China, Marouf said prior to the match, both teams had already made it to the semifinals.
“Thus, better performances are expected from them in their upcoming matches in the tournament.”
He said Iran has enough time to think about its next match against Korea as the players have one day off to recover both physically and mentally.
Iran captain noted that his side knows that the East Asian rival is very good in defense, adding, “We played a very tough game against South Koreans in the 2019 Asian Men's Volleyball Championship in September and expect a difficult match on Saturday.”
He stressed that Iran is in good form and ideal conditions.
“I think we have a strong team and will have no problem for the match against South Korea.”
On Wednesday, Iran snatched victory against Kazakhstan in its second group match, outpowering Kazakhstan 3-0 (28-26, 25-16, 25-18) in the same city.
The win was Iran’s second victory in the six-day tournament (January 7-12), as it had defeated Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-14) in its first match on Tuesday.
Iran’s coach Igor Kolakovic did not use its main lineup for the encounter against Kazakhstan, giving younger players the opportunity to play an official match and add to their experience.
The tournament began with eight teams competing in two groups for just one Olympic berth.
On Thursday, however, Iranian women failed to claim their first win in the Women's Continental Tokyo Volleyball Qualification, conceding a narrow defeat to Indonesia in their third group match in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
Iran lost the game to the Indonesian side 2-3 (21-25, 15-25, 25-21, 26-24, 12-15).
On Wednesday, Iranian women had lost their second group match 0-3 (15-25, 9-25, 19-25) to South Korea in the same city, despite putting in a brilliant performance.
In their first group match, Iran had been beaten 0-3 (14-25, 16-25, 14-25) by Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Having started on January 7, the women’s contests of the tournament will continue until January 12.
Like men’s contests, only the champion of the women’s competitions will secure a berth in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.