Astana, Kazakhstan, 8 July 2023 – Titleholders Iran captured the 2023 WPV Sitting Volleyball Asian Zone Championship trophy in the men’s competition after a 3-0 triumph (25-21, 25-14, 25-17) over hosts Kazakhstan on Saturday at the Jekpe -Jek Sports Centre.
As Iran have previously qualified for the upcoming Paralympic Games, Kazakhstan, as the highest placed non-qualified team of the Asian Zonal Championship, have now confirmed their ticket to Paris 2024.
The same match-up met in the finale of the 2017 Asian Zone finale in Hangzhou, China, where Iran similarly posted a 3-0 victory to reach the top of the podium.
Iran looked keen in their quest to retain the title, establishing their lead in the opening set. The hosts were equally keen on gifting the crowd with an Asian title. Showing that they could play along their opponents tempo. Iran later charged into a strong 25-21, diffusing any attempt of a comeback from their opponents.
By the next set, Iran played with momentum in their favour. They executed their serve and attack with more precision and posted tougher defense. They banked on a sizeable lead that shielded them from crucial points delivered by the opponents, to take 25-14 in the second set.
Rushing into a 6-0 lead, Iran continued to surge forth in the third set. The Kazakh side, wanting to turn things around, inched their way to within two points at 16-18. Iran exerted all effort to capitalise on their confidence and sparked a scoring run to seal the match in straight sets.
Even with multiple laurels including Asian titles, World Championships and Paralympics medals, Iran coach Hadi Rezaei sees no sense in stopping what his program has set forth.
“We have not even really started yet. Every game is just the start of our team for the next chapter. In this championship, we did not bring five of our most experienced athletes. In the Asian ParaGames in Hangzhou, we will have another combination of players,” he said.
“Our short-term goal is Hangzhou 2023, our mid-term is Paris 2024, and we hope to take our long-term goal all the way to Los Angeles 2028 Paralympics,” Rezaei added.