WL2017/Iran Upset Belgium in a five-set Thriller
Tehran, Iran, July 1, 2016 – A stunning all-round performance by Milad Ebadipour, who scored 20 points for Iran by contributing to a 3-2 (23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-23, 15-12) victory over the European opponent in their first-ever encounter at FIVB World League.
The match opened with Belgium taking the lead 8-7. But the full-packed Azadi’s 12000 spectators repeatedly raised the name of the new Iranian coach, Igor Kolakovic in support of Iran team. The inspiring crowd witnessed their team trailed by 11-9 that finally the solid spike of Ebadipour made it tie 12-12. Iran take the lead again in 13-12 by the confident spike of Mousavi. The number of challenges and substitution raised to the maximum to prove the intensity of the match but finally the Belgium’s winning approach brought them 25-23.
The Iranian players who decided not to be ashamed of home fans came back in the second set and managed to dominate the play by changing mentality. Kolakovic stood by the court witnessing his players taking the lead 3-1 hoping them not to lose concentration. Coach Heynen of Belgium called for time-out to stop the flow of Iranian as they were trailing 10-7. It was repeated again in 12-7 as Iranian were intended to make up the first set loss. The gap widened in the second TTO 16-10 made Iranian to step into the court with heads high before the home crowd. Heynen’s five substitutions did not help them to annul the plans of Iranian. The rally came to an end 27-17 for Iran.
Iran stepped into the court with an improving confidence and clinched the opening points but it was Belgium that took the lead by 8-4. Iran tried to turn things around for 11-10 and a time-out was inevitable for Heynen. Marouf made it tie 11-11. The battle went point by point that finally Iran made a comeback 14-12. Iran led on as the fans were on the edge of their seats waiting to see the final decisive point. Finally, the camera recorded the winning score 16-13 in favour of Iran. no working plan was found and the Belgians were disappointed as Iran closed the set at 25-22.
In the fourth set, Iran led by 8-6 and but the Belgians made it tie 14-14 and points were exchanged towards the 16-15 at the second technical time-out. Gholami served out to come down 15-17 for Iran but soon Ebadipour made it tie 17-17 and again the set went point by point. When they were 20-22 down, Iran called a time-out. It worked as Mousavi cut the margin 21-22 but soon after Heynen dragged his players out to stop Iran as it was the very decisive set to let Belgian stay in for one more set. Belgium could finally extend the sets to fifth by taking the fourth set 25-23.
Iran got off to a better start rushing to 6-4 lead in the tiebreak. The host crowd led Iran to an inspiring win against Belgium 15-12.