Iranian men’s national volleyball team managed to secure tickets to the 2020 Olympics, obtaining the aim that had been set long ago.
Iran gained a commanding 3-0 win over China in the final of AVC Men’s Tokyo Volleyball Qualification in China on Sunday. The win gave Iran the second consecutive berth to one of the most prestigious sports events in the world.
Officials in the Iranian volleyball federation had repeatedly said that the team’s main aim is to advance to the Olympics and so tried to downplay the importance of other world events in 2019 such as the FIVB World Cup in which Iran didn’t show the expected performance.
Twelve teams will compete for the title in two pools of six at the 2020 Olympics from July 26 to August 9. The composition of the pools has been determined based on the FIVB ranking of the teams.
Six teams of Italy, Poland, Brazil, the USA, Russia, and Argentina had earlier won their ticket in international qualifiers. In the next stage of qualifications that was held last week in each continent, Iran, France, Tunisia, Venezuela, and Canada won their respective tournaments to join the first six teams in addition to Japan as the host country.
Here are the two pools, drawn according to FIVB ranking:
Pool A: Japan, Poland, Italy, Canada, Iran, and Venezuela.
Pool B: Brazil, USA, Russia, Argentina, France, and Tunisia.
A first glance at the pools reveals that competition on Pool B seems to be more intense as three semifinalists of the 2016 Olympics (Brazil, Russia, and the USA) are showing their teeth for the next stage.
Meanwhile, Pool A seems more ideal for Iran as the team has shown to be able to defeat at least Japan, Venezuela, and Canada; though victory against Italy and Poland is not impossible. However, one should never forget that it is the Olympics and all the teams have been great enough to qualify.
Iran has locked horns with all the teams of Pool A, except Venezuela, during the 2019 FIVB Men’s World Cup in Japan. Igor Kolakovic’s men only emerged victorious against Canada (3-1) while suffering defeats to Poland (0-3), Italy (2-3), and Japan (0-1). The last match between Iran and Venezuela was held in qualifications for the 2016 Olympics which finished 3-2 for the Persians.
In the 2016 Olympics, Iran gained two wins and suffered three defeats in the preliminary round, advancing to the next stage as Pool B’s fourth team. However, Iran then lost the match against Italy (3-0) in quarterfinals.
Some experts believe that the players who are now playing in Team Melli are the golden generation and the ones who can make history for the country’s volleyball by standing on Olympics podium. It’s no secret that Iran has lots of talents in this sport but these players have been playing along with each other for the past several years. Some of the key players such as Saied Marouf, Mohammad Mousavi, or Farhad Ghaemi will most probably announce retirement before the next Olympics, so now it seems the time to make the most out of this generation.
By Mohammad Ali Haqshenas
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