Iran and Pakistan became the only teams unbeaten in the 1st Asian Men’s U16 Volleyball Championship at Hall 1 inside Yunusobod Sports Complex in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Wednesday, as Top 8 teams strived vigorously to notch opening wins in Pools E and F to keep their hopes of advancing to the semifinals alive.
Iran, which made a clean sweep in Pool C including big wins against Japan and China, moved a step closer to securing their semifinal berth.
Contesting the cross Top 8 matches against Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Japan in Pool E, the Iranians, who had already pulled off dramatic 3-2 win against Japan in the pool round-robin preliminaries, proved themselves as one of the strongest contenders for the eventual Asian title as they saw off Kazakhstan in thrilling four-setter 25-15, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19 on Wednesday.
In the other Pool E encounter, Japan survived a huge scare from Pool A winners Uzbekistan to silence the cheering home fans with a stunning victory against Uzbekistan in a hard-fought five-set thriller 25-22, 25-19, 23-25, 20-25, 15-13.
In Pool F, Pakistan, the only team which have yet lost a set to their respective opponents in this championship, continued their remarkable unbeaten run in Tashkent.
On Wednesday, the Pakistanis proved a cut above Australia to brush off the Pool B second place in comfortable straight sets 25-13, 25-19, 25-14.
Chinese Taipei, which earlier finished second to Pool D winners Pakistan, struggled hard in another Pool F match on Wednesday to narrowly edge spirited Thailand in exhausting five sets 25-16, 26-28, 16-25, 26-24, 15-11.
At the end of the first-day action of the action-packed round of Top 8 on Wednesday, in-form Iran stayed atop Pool E with 5 points from two straight wins against Japan (in preliminary round Pool C earlier) and Kazakhstan. Hosts Uzbekistan came in second place with 4 points from one win against one loss. Uzbekistan had already defeated Kazakhstan in straight sets in preliminary Pool A match earlier.
Japan also had the same 1-1 win/loss record as Uzbekistan, but claimed only 3 points to trail in third position in Pool E. The Japanese side went down 2-3 to Iran in preliminary round Pool C earlier, but captured a dramatic 3-2 win against Uzbekistan on Wednesday. Kazakhstan succumbed to two losses in succession consisting 0-3 to Uzbekistan in preliminary round Pool A earlier and another 0-3 letdown to Iran on Wednesday to finish fourth place in Pool E.
Unbeaten Pakistan topped…