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Our problem is mental: Iran coach Kovac

 
 Tokyo, Japan, September 21, 2015 – Australia edged Iran 3-0 (27-25, 27-25, 25-22) in the FIVB Men’s World Cup at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Monday.

Iran coach Slobodan Kovac: When I spoke to my players about the match with Australia, I said it would be so difficult. Generally, we don’t play so good against them. Three years ago, we lost qualification for the Olympic Games and in the World Championship we won 3-1 but it was very difficult. Today, we didn’t do anything. I must apologize to the super Iranian fans who came here to support us. I understand the players came here with the objective of playing for a spot in the Olympic Games but during the tournament we didn’t play so good. Maybe we don’t have the motivation to play; I don’t know why. We lost because Australia played better than us. All tournament, we didn’t play good and we must talk about this competition and about our approach mentally and try to change because I think the problem with my team is a mental problem. We have quality but so often it depends on how they wake up in the morning. Maybe tomorrow it will be better. 

(Re. absence of Ghafour): Like the last match with Japan, Ghafour has a little problem with his shoulder. He didn’t spike in two days and I didn’t want to risk him. He says he has some pain so I don’t use him.

Iran captain Mir Saeid Marouflakrani: Congratulations to Australia. We started very good today. We had chances in the first set and we lost the second and everything was changed. Today, we couldn’t serve good enough and they were perfect in reception and sideout and it’s normal to lose in this situation. 

Australia coach Roberto Santilli: Finally, we can have a press conference smiling, because we didn’t smile a lot in this tournament. Today was a great satisfaction for us and our young guys and I’m proud of their performance. We showed how much your confidence can change if you win an important contest like the first set. We won the first set and got confidence and the players started to play like they never played before here. It’s a very important aspect of volleyball to play with security and that’s what we’ve missed here, especially in the last three games. The first set was important for us; we increased our confidence and played better and better. 

Today was a big step for us because we didn’t just play, we played well and we played better and we beat a very important team. Most of the players are young and it was a really big step for them because for most of them it’s their first experience here, and sometimes they were scared to play against Russia or Poland, but we are learning something and the team is playing better. This is important for us because it gives us the idea that we are making progress.  

(Re. contributions of Sukochev and Carroll): Sukochev played very well in the World League and was mainly the starting setter and then he had a period when (Harrison) Peacock was playing better and he was sick and sometimes in a long season you can have some up and downs. We were missing Sukochev in the last period; he wasn’t playing very well and we tried to practice more and practice more. I always said to him, ‘There will be a moment when you have a chance to come back and you have to be ready, so practice more and be ready when the moment arrives.’ And he was following me because he’s a good guy and a good worker and the moment arrived because of the injury to Peacock, and then he took the chance. About Paul Carroll, he’s the player with the more experience that we have. The only problem we have is that we cannot play Edgar at the same time, so we have to choose one of the two. Today he showed that he is the type of player who can really help this group of guys.  

Australia captain Thomas Edgar: I’m very proud and impressed with our team today. It’s very difficult sometimes with a long tournament and a lot of games, and a lot of tough games for us, but the boys really came out today and fired, and fixed and improved on a lot of things we’ve been working on during the tournament. Our ball reception was great but it’s always a tough game against Iran. Any time we can play a good enough match and get the win is an important step for this team. 

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