Bahrain capped their preliminary round campaign with a brilliant victory last night as the qualifiers for the Round of 16 were made known in the 2017 FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship.
The tournament hosts ousted African champions Tunisia 3-1 (25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 25-22) in their final Pool A match to finish the competition’s opening stage with an impressive 3-1 win-loss record.
They now move on to the Round of 16, where they are joined from Pool A by Egypt, the USA, and Puerto Rico. From Pool B, Japan, France, Brazil and Cuba have made it through. From Pool C, Russia, Argentina, Korea and Turkey were all in. In Pool D, Italy, Iran, the Czech Republic and China all qualified.
Tunisia, Chile, Mexico and even defending champions Poland all missed out on further title contention.
The teams now move on to the Round of 16, which will be played tomorrow.
Bahrain started off strong last night before giving up the third set to Tunisia. But they were clearly the better team on the night, and sealed the victory with a fine effort in the fourth set.
The Bahrainis relied on the three-headed monster of Sayed Alabbar, Mohamed Jasim and Hasan Mohamed, who each finished with 16 points. Alabbar also had two aces and two blocks, while Jasim had one ace and seven big blocks. Mohamed added another five blocks for Bahrain, while Mahmood Abdulhusain contributed 13 points including two aces.
“I think the game was easier for us because all the pressure was on the Tunisian team to win,” Bahrain head coach Yousef Khalifa said. “We were able to take the first two sets but they returned in the third and proved why they are champions of Africa. But thank God, we were able to end it in the fourth set and relieve some pressure from our players.”
In the other Pool A contest, Egypt defeated the USA 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21) while in Pool B, Japan registered a resounding 3-0 (25-21, 26-24, 25-18) win over Brazil.
France were also big winners yesterday and are amongst the top teams to finish in Pool B. The French defeated defending champions Poland 3-1 (23-25, 25-22, 25-20, 40-38).
In Pool C, Russia beat Korea 3-1 (25-22, 25-16, 22-25, 25-20) while Turkey defeated Argentina in five sets 3-2 (28-26, 25-22, 21-25, 19-25, 15-11).
In Pool D, Italy beat China 3-1 (25-22, 25-13, 20-25, 25-23) and Iran swept the Czech Republic 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-19).