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China beat Japan in Olympic volleyball qualifiers
Updated: 2004-05-24 08:56

China outgunned Japan 3-2 to remain unbeaten along with France in the final men's volleyball Olympic qualifying tournament for the Athens Games Sunday in Tokyo.

China's Shen Qiong, right, spikes the ball against Japan's Morcos Sugiyama during their men's volleyball qualifying for the Athens Olympics in Tokyo, Sunday, May 23, 2004. [AP]
From the eight-team round-robin tournament, the winners and thebest-finishing Asian team will go to Athens this summer.

China, Asian runners-up who stunned continental champions South Korea 3-0 on Saturday, rallied back from three points down in the tie-breaker to score a 27-25, 20-25, 25-22, 22-25 and 18-16 victory for a second straight win.

In other actions of the day, France won a nerve-wracking battle against Canada 25-22, 25-23, 25-21 while Iran and Australia, third and fourth in the Asian championships, both posted their first win by beating South Korea 25-18, 25-21, 25-16 and Algeria 25-17, 25-22, 25-16 respectively.

"When we were down 5-8 in the final set, we started to play our best game," said Chinese captain Wang Haibin. "We are not a top team in the world, but we played our best possible match today."

Chinese coach Di Anhe who called up four veterans, including Wang and top scorer Zhang Xiang for the tournament, said that "we showed our fighting spirit and played our own style. I'm very satisfied with that."

French coach Philippe Blain was "satisfied" with the hard-won win over Canada, and Argentine coach Uriarte Jon was also pleased with Australia's first win of the event.

However, South Korean Park Ki-Won had mixed feelings after coaching Iran to beat his home country for their second straight defeat and dented their hopes of making a sixth straight Olympics.

"When I saw the Iranian team, I saw their potential of becoming a very good team. I wanted to bring Iran to top of Asia. This is my dream," said Park, who represented South Korea for the 1972 and 1976 Olympics in Munich and Montreal.

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