Iranian players gather with Amir Ghafour, who scored 30 times to provide a key win
Lodz, Poland, September 14, 2014 - Iran earned a crucial win to maintain their hopes in Poland as they prevailed over Serbia 3-1 (27-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-18) and wait for other Pool E results to make it to the third round.
• Iran is already on their best performance at the tournament, as they never placed above 19th place in their four previous participations.
• The head-to-head record now belongs to the Asian team, by a slim 3-2.
• Their only previous duel at the competition was in 1970, when former Yugoslavia beat Iran 3-2.
• Serbia had reached semifinals in their four last runs at FIVB World Championship - including Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro campaigns, from 1998 to 2010.
Amir Ghafour was again a scoring machine as he uncorked 30 points for the winning side, passing all other scorers by a wide margin. Serbia had two players who placed near the Iranian killer - Aleksandar Atanasijevic and left-handed Uros Kovacevic, both with 18 tallies.
Despite the absence of Milos Nikic and Nikola Kovacevic, Serbia was able to battle. However, Ghafour was the lighthouse for Iran as he nailed 10 points and carried his side to the win, especially in the final track. Nemanja Petric scored a 22-20 for Serbia, but Ghafour became the key and Iran climbed back to 24-23. Mousavi made the effort worthy and sealed the 27-25.
Iran kept going to 10-8 in the second set, but Petric got at the helm for Serbia and Uros Kovacevic teamed up to draw numbers of 18-16 for the Europeans. Even though Iran stopped losing ground, Marko Podrascanin was a safe choice for Serbia as he spiked to 23-21 and Kovacevic blocked to establish the final gap. A failed Iranian serve settled the 25-22.
However, Serbia didn’t quite come back to the game and Iran rapidly advanced to 7-2, creating a lead that Ghafour sustained with another batch of 10 points. The Iranian side moved on to 16-12 with their bomber in top shape and Serbia steadily lost their power. Armin Tashakori and Mojtaba Mirzajanpour completed the 25-22.
The fourth set breezed past quickly as Serbia couldn’t regain their form and Iran blocked firmly to demolish every hope. The Asian side moved from 11-3 to 16-9, even with Serbia chaining a couple of points. The final track showed Iran ahead by a comfortable 20-13 and Ghafour took care of the rest. Serbia gave Iran a bunch of match balls with a long serve and Ghafour smashed the 25-18.