Iran’s national volleyball team has secured a quota place for the high-status event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, following a deserved victory over the Poles at the Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan.
On Saturday, the Iranian outfit conquered Poland 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 20-25 and 34-32) at the world-class Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in the Japanese capital in its sixth encounter at the international tournament.
Determined to end Iran’s 52-year drought at the volleyball tournament of Summer Olympics, Argentine coach Raúl Lozano fielded captain Saeid Marouf, Mehdi Marandi, Adel Gholami, Seyed Mohammad Mousavi, Milad Ebadipour and Shahram Mahmoudi in the initial line-up.
Polish volleyball players, who had already claimed a spot at the 2016 Summer Olympics, started the first set in a strong fashion before the Iranians sprang into action and brought the game under control to level the score at 7-7.
The Persians then notched up another point, and entered the first technical timeout 8-7.
Both teams were tailing each other point by point, when Iranian sportsmen took up a favorable opportunity to surge ahead and established a 14-11 lead. The Persians finally clinched the first set 25-20
Iranian volleyball players maintained their pressure on Poland’s defense in the second set, and raced out to an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout.
They were up 16-12 at the second technical timeout, and won the second set 25-18 at last.
The Poles, having lost two consecutive sets, earned the first point of the third set, but it was Iranians who were 8-6 ahead at the first technical timeout.
Polish volleyball players put right their mistakes after that, and recorded a 16-15 lead at the second technical timeout. They closed the set at 25-20.
Lozano fielded Hamzeh Zarini in place of Farhad Ghaemi at the outset of the decider. The Polish volleyball players did their utmost afterwards to stop their opponents from racking up points. The Iranian team, however, battled valiantly to win the fourth set and pulled out to a 34-32 victory to call it a day.
“I feel immensely happy. It is special because it is a historic moment for Iran. The people of Iran have been waiting for this chance to go to the Olympics for a long time. I don’t want to talk about statistics. I'm happy with the result. We will have a party tonight to celebrate,” Lozano said after the match.
“It's time to celebrate. It's the first time in history for Iran. I'm very happy to make the Olympics. We didn't qualify four years ago, losing out by one set to Australia and it was a bad memory for us. This might have been the last chance for some Iranian players to make the Olympics. We have made history,” Marouf noted.
“We are already working towards the Olympic Games, so it's a different motivation. Our players tried to do their best today. I'm satisfied with the way we played in the last two sets. Congratulations to Iran on qualifying for the Olympics,” Poland’s coach Stephane Antiga commented.
Iran men's national volleyball team will return to action on Sunday, when it takes on Venezuela in its final match.
The Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament kicked off in Tokyo on May 28 and will run through June 5.