KARACHI: Pakistan on Monday blasted their way into the quarter-finals when they downed Hong Kong 3-1 in their second Group B outing of the 21st Asian Men’s Senior Volleyball Championship at the Chiba Port Arena in Japan.
After winning the first set 25-16, Pakistan got relaxed in the second set and had to pay the price for that as Hong Kong snatched from them the set 26-24 to make it 1-1. However, at this stage Pakistan planned differently and came hard on their opponents in the third and fourth sets and secured 25-11, 25-12 victories to seal a 3-1 eventual win.
Usman did a marvellous job for the winners through his power-spiking, scoring 20 points. Skipper Aimal Khan made 15 points, while Mubashir Raza and Abdul Zaheer also did well by managing 13 and ten points, respectively, in their respective zones.
For Hong Kong Chin To Au top-scored with ten points while Tam Chun Ho managed eight points. Poon Chi Leung and Yin Chun scored seven points each. Aimal said his team did well. “I am happy the boys did well today,” Aimal told ‘The News’ from Chiba. “Yes, in the second set we did not play well. But then we raised our game and made a strong comeback,” he said.
“Usman did a wonderful job and so did the others. It was a fine team effort and everyone played his role. The back-to-back wins have boosted the morale of the team ahead of the quarter-finals,” Aimal said.
Responding to a question about defending champions Iran who they face on Tuesday (today), he said they would try their best. “It will be a tough game, no doubt, as Iran are a strong side and are doing well at the global level. We have not played against them for the last three to four years but we are ready and will give our hundred percent against them,” Aimal said.
Iran are world’s 11th best side and Asia’s second best. They have won the Asian Championship three times. This was the second successive win for Pakistan in their group as they had beaten Thailand 3-2 after a tough fight in Sunday’s opener.
Pakistan now with six points have made it to the quarter-finals stage which will be held on a round robin system. In the other Group B game on Monday, Iran defeated Thailand in straight sets to make it to the quarter-finals. The set scores were 25-17, 25-12 and 25-18.
India again played poorly as they were subjected to their second straight defeat, this time by Qatar, who won the fixture 3-0, which means India are now out of the quarter-finals. The set scores were 25-22, 25-14 and 25-20.
Qatar, with two wins, qualified for the quarter-finals along with Japan, record nine-time winners and Asia’s top team. Japan defeated Bahrain 3-1, their second straight victory from two games. The set scores were 25-23, 17-25, 23-25, 16-25 in favour of Japan, who is the world’s tenth top team.
China and Australia qualified for the quarter-finals from Group C following their second straight wins. China, three-time champions, prevailed over Uzbekistan 3-0 with the set scores of 25-14, 25-18 and 25-10. Australia defeated Kuwait 3-0 with the set scores of 25-21, 25-14 and 25-9.
Chinese Taipei and South Korea made it to the quarter-finals stage from Group D following wins on Monday, their second straight. Chinese Taipei defeated Saudi Arabia 3-0 with the set scores of 25-15, 25-16 and 25-17. Four-time champions South Korea downed Kazakhstan 3-0 with the set scores of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-16. The final league matches will be held on Tuesday (today).