Iran prepared for Asian Games gold extensively, says former player Bhavsar

Talking to Sportstar following the men's and women’s teams' failure to clinch gold for the first time in 28 years, Raju Bhavsar believes that Iran meticulously planned to claim the gold medal in Jakarta.

Action from the Asian Games semifinal clash between India and Iran on Thursday.   -  PTI

Iran’s surge to the top in Asian Games men’s kabaddi, by outplaying the title defending Indian side in the semifinal and getting the better of South Korea in the final, has disappointed, but not surprised Raju Bhavsar, a member of the gold medal winning Indian team at the Asian Games in Beijing in 1990.

"Iran’s goal was not the World Cup or the Dubai Kabaddi Masters. Iran targeted the Asian Games gold medal. The side was well-prepared as if one would prepare for war. India beat Iran 27-25 in the Incheon 2014 final to win the gold medal. And since that final, Iran has been aiming for the gold,’’ said the 1996 Arjuna Award winner.

Talking to Sportstar  following the men and women’s teams' failure to win the gold medal for the first time in 28 years (India has won seven gold medals in a row), Bhavsar believed that Iran meticulously planned for the memorable day in Jakarta.

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"I had the occasion to chat with Iran’s top player Fazel Atrachali during the Pro Kabaddi League and he always use to tell me that for Iran, "Asian Games gold is the ultimate". Iran did not send all of its major players for all seasons of Pro Kabaddi. Fazel is a defender and over a period of five seasons, he lapped up the strong and weak points of the Indians.

"Abozar Mohajer Mighani came in season 5. Both Fazel and Abozar did not feature in the Kabaddi Masters in Dubai. Such has been Iran’s planning. Pro Kabaddi has helped many Iranian players, most importantly has helped them to know the Indian players and the way they play as a team," he said.

Bhavsar believes that Iran is a real force now and so would be South Korea -- which defeated India in the league stage. "The other Asian teams will believe that they can also win the kabaddi gold. Thailand’s women’s team will be a major threat now," he noted.

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The former kabaddi international also pointed out flawed selections in the Indian team. "India dropped an efficient right-cover like Surjeet Singh from the squad. He was picked for the  World Cup, Kabaddi Masters and the Asian Championships, but not for the Asian Games. India did not pick a specialist left cover also. The coach plays a very important part in kabaddi; this aspect was also missing.

"Kabaddi in India is now being run by an administrator. India’s failure to win the gold medal at the Asian Games has happened at the wrong time," said Bhavsar, adding that there is not much caliber in the women’s team.