Controversial Win For Japan Over Thailand In Olympic Qualifier

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Japan made an epic comeback from trailing 6-12 in the fifth set of its three-hour World Olympic Qualification Tournament match versus Thailand. In the 9-1 scoring run that led to a 15-13 victory for the team hosting the tournament, Thailand's coach received two red cards, which gave Japan two free points.

The reason for the red cards is unclear. Thai coach Radchatagriengkai Kiattipong said the tablets used to make substitutions and challenge plays were malfunctioning, and he was simply asking the reffing team why they weren't working.

"I have no idea what the referee was thinking. I wasn't rude to him at all," said Radchatagriengkai. "I just asked him questions about the tablets we use for the substitutions... But the match is over now, and all we can do is accept it. I've been pointing out the problem since the first day, and it still hasn't been corrected."

The problems with the tablets, substitutions and challenges occurred throughout the match, but things really started getting heated at the end of the fourth set. Thailand had a 2-1 sets advantage and led 21-19, but Japan began to fight back and eventually earned the set point, 24-22. Thailand scored the next point to stave off Japan's advance, but when Radchatagriengkai went to make a substitution, something went awry. His motion was denied, with no clear explanation given. The commentator only said, "The official reason is that the technology is not working at the moment. Oh dear." Japan won the next point to send the match to five.

In the fifth set, Radchatagriengkai received his first red card with his team leading 12-8 after he tried to use one of his challenges to review a play and his request was denied.

The second came with Japan leading 13-12, when once again, his attempt to sub did not succeed. The resulting point, which was awarded to Japan, gave the host team the match point. Again, Thailand earned the next point, which advanced the score to 13-14, but star Japanese outside Saori Kimura slammed a kill for the amazing, unexpected and controversial victory.

The loss dealt a huge blow to the Thai women's ambitions of qualifying for their first-ever Olympics. They will now have to win all three remaining matches at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament be guaranteed a top-four finish and an Olympic berth.

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