France edge Iran in friendly match at Tourcoing
France came up with a 3-1 (25-19 25-27 33-31 27-25) win over Asian powerhouse Iran on Friday in the first of two friendly matches at Complexe Leo Lagrande, in preparation for the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Tokyo Japan.
The Frenchmen performed very well during the first act to get the best preparation before they fly out to Tokyo from May 28 to June 5 for their final chance to qualify to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Laurent Tillie is slowly completing his team, as several players are still finishing their commitments with their clubs. Tillie is aware of the worn elements in terms of the physical and psychological condition of his players, but the French coach is dealing with it well. On court, supported by the local crowd, the European champions responded well as Nicolas Marechal stepped up in place of their star outside hitter Earvin Ngapeth.
France dictated the tempo in the opening set to lead 8-5 and 16-10 in the technical timeouts. Kevin Tillie made a well-placed attack that concluded the first set 25-19. The second set went in the same manner as France took the early lead but Iran were able to cut down the lead to 16-13. Kevin Le Roux gave a slim lead at 25-24 for Iran had the momentum and prevailed in the second set 27-25.
France had another cardiac finish in the third set as Iran constantly challenged the hosts but a soft shot by middle blocker Chaumont Horacio de Almeida ended the set in favour of France 33-31. Laurent Tillie used the opportunity to field in Franck Lafitte, Julien Lyneel, Thibault Rasigatale, Trevor Chey and Antoine Brizard and Hubert Henno until the fourth set. Iran wasted no time in the fourth set and took the early advantage, but Rasigatale and Lyneel fought hard for the home team to snatch the lead from the visiting side. France secured set and match 27-25.
“It was difficult to just put seven player in this match,” coach Tillie said. “We still need to find our rhythm. It is important to get everyone involved in this kind of match because everyone brings something good. The players show all the vigour and the quality of work done in clubs. It is good for our future but right now we are focused on qualifying for the Olympics.”
The second part of their friendlies will be on Saturday at Harnes, 18:00 local time.