Lausanne, Switzerland, January 9, 2020 – France will play against hosts Germany in the crucial final of the men’s European continental Olympic qualifier in Berlin on Friday. The French mounted a furious comeback from two sets behind in their semifinal against Slovenia. Germany knocked Bulgaria out in four sets.
Tunisia defeated hosts Egypt in straight sets at the African continental qualifier in Cairo to remain as the only unbeaten team of the tournament so far, one step away from Tokyo 2020.
Iran shut out hosts China for the first place in their pool at the Asian continental Olympic qualification tournament in Jiangmen. Also on Thursday, the team of Korea grabbed the last semifinal vacancy by snatching a five-set victory over Qatar, which was enough to make them runners-up in their pool and leave Australia out of contention. Iran will play Korea and Qatar will face China in Saturday’s clashes for the spots in the final.
France accomplished a phenomenal recovery from two sets down in Thursday’s first semifinal in Berlin to emerge with a 3-2 (13-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-21, 15-9) victory over Slovenia and a spot in Friday’s crucial final for the Olympic vacancy. Jean Patry’s 22 points made him the best scorer of the match. Toncek Stern accounted for 20 on the Slovenian side.
In the second semifinal at the Max-Schmeling-Halle, the Germans capitalized on the great support of a 4,300-strong home crowd to put a stop on Bulgaria’s winning streak with a 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23) defeat. Opposite Gyorgy Grozer was Germany’s best scorer of the match with 17 points to his name, one short of his Bulgarian counterpart Tsvetan Sokolov.
Tunisia stayed well on track to claiming the African ticket to Tokyo 2020 by adding another straight-set victory to their impeccable record so far. In a very important encounter with hosts Egypt on day three of the Olympic qualifier in Cairo, the Tunisians managed a 3-0 (29-27, 25-14, 25-23) win to stay on top of the current standings as the only remaining undefeated team in the tournament. Elyes Karamosli contributed 16 points to Tunisia’s success, while Ahmed Abdelhay produced 23 points for the home side.
In the earlier match of the day, Algeria mastered a 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-17) shutout of Cameroon, their first win out of two games at the qualifier. Toufik Mahdjoubi’s 13 points for Algeria placed him on top of the match scorers.
With Thomas Edgar on fire again (27 points, of which two aces), Australia took the three points from their last match in Pool B with a 3-1 (25-27, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22) win over India and improved their win-loss record to 2-1, but their fate still depended on the outcome of the last match in the pool. Unfortunately for them, Korea pulled off a 3-2 (25-18, 28-26, 22-25, 20-25, 15-13) victory over pool leaders Qatar to surpass the Volleyroos for the second place in the final standings. Chul-Woo Park was the best scorer of the match with 20 points to his name. His teammate Min-Ho Choi impressed with six kill blocks, while Belal Nabel Abunabot was Qatar’s leading scorer on 18 points.
Iran mastered a 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-21) shutout of China in the direct duel for the first place in Pool A, as both teams had already secured their spots in the semis. Shahram Mahmoudi contributed 16 points to Iran’s victory, while Libin Liu was most prolific on the Chinese side with 12 points to his name.
In a match between the two winless teams in Pool A that had no bearing on the semifinal line-up, Chinese Taipei put a stop to their losing streak with a 3-1 (19-25, 25-11, 25-18, 25-21) win over Kazakhstan.