2016 Kabaddi World Cup :: Iran grind out nail-biter, make the grand final - News

Iran grind out nail-biter, make the grand final

21 October 2016

Iran held their nerves intact and stormed into the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup final with a 28-22 victory over a fighting Republic of Korea in a rollercoaster of a match. The talismanic captain of Iran, Meraj Sheykh, contributed with a match high of 7 points, while the lanky Korean raider Jang Kun Lee managed just 4 raid points. The Koreans displayed tremendous energy while trying to compete with a top side like Iran but fell short in the end.

At the beginning of the first 20 minutes, raiders from both sides started cautiously, taking minimal risk, which was an indication of a low scoring encounter. Sheykh opened the account for Iran in the third minute with a touch point, while Jang Kun Lee broke the deadlock using his long legs. It was a stiff contest initially as the score was tied 3-3 till the 9th minute. At one stage, Iran were 7 points in arrears but with some intelligent raids they reduced the deficit to only 2 points. 

The first half ended with a 13-11 scoreline in favour of Republic of Korea.

Iran found a second wind in the second half by inflicting the first all-out on the Koreans to level the scores 15-15, which turned out be the turning point of the match. The Iranians extended their lead to 4 points, while the Korean raiders struggled against the resilient defenders who stood tall. Iran’s defenders were looking reluctant to go for any advanced tackles and were happy to dig deep behind the bonus line, making the opponents’ life tough. Diligent efforts from Iran yielded the final nail in the coffin as they nicked past Republic of Korea 28-22.

Rising to the occasion when it mattered the most, the 2014 Asian Games silver medallists now enter the grand final where they will face the winners of the second semi-final. The Koreans can take heart from their gritty show, not just in this match but also throughout the tournament. They were unbeaten in the group stage and won many hearts in their Indian adventure.

Check out the MatchCentre for the complete breakdown of the first semi-final.