Iran Enters Young Team into Deep Zagreb Open Field

By Eric Olanowski

ZAGREB, Croatia (January 6) – Iran will be sending a full team to the Zagreb Open, but it surely won’t be the same team they'll be sending to Astana, Kazakhstan for the 2019 World Championships. 

Every wrestler Iran registered for the first Ranking Series event of the year will be making their senior-level international debuts, and only Abolfazl SEYEDMAHDAVI, who finished in eighth place at the 2019 Takhti Cup in Tehran, Iran, has wrestled domestically on the senior-level. 

Though it’s an extremely young team, eight of the ten Iranian wrestlers bring age-group world-level experience into this weekend, with six of those wrestlers boasting world championship medals on their resumes.

The trio of cadet world champions, Poya DAD MARZ (55kg), Mohsen MADHANI (63kg), and Yousef HOSSEINVAND FATHI (72kg) lead the lower half of the Iranian lineup, while 2018 U23 world bronze medalist Aliakbar YOUSOFIAHMADCHALI (130kg) and 2018 cadet world bronze medalist Mohammad NAGHOUSI (77kg) close out the back half of their youthful lineup. 

You can watch the young Iranian squad compete at the Zagreb Open on Saturday (February 9), live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org.

Iran’s Zagreb Open Lineup 
55kg - Poya DAD MARZ – 2017 junior world champion 
60kg - Milad REZANEZHAD HOSSEINVAND – 2017 cadet world championships - 17th place 
63kg-  Mohsen MADHANI – 2017 cadet world champion 
67kg - Mohammad Reza Hojatollah MOKHTARI – 2016 cadet world runner-up 
72kg - Yousef Hajiali HOSSEINVAND FATHI – 2016 cadet world champion, 2018 junior world bronze
77kg - Mohammad Aziz NAGHOUSI – 2018 cadet world bronze medalist
82kg - Hosein FOROUZANDEH GHOJEHBEIGLOU – 2018 junior world championships - 8th place 
97kg - Abolfazl Naser SEYEDMAHDAVI – 2019 Takhti Cup -  8th place 
130kg - Aliakbar Hossein YOUSOFIAHMADCHALI – 2018 U23 world bronze


Five "Must Watch" Matches from the Zagreb Open

By Eric Olanowski

There were countless great matches that took place over the two days of wrestling at the first Greco-Roman Ranking Series event of the year, the Zageb Open, and we took the time to compile a list of the ten best matches with the most action and biggest storylines. 

82kg FINALS - Bulgaria's Daniel ALEKSANDROV erased a 7-0 opening-period deficit and scored eight unanswered points in the final period to upend returning world runner-up Emrah KUS (TUR), 8-7 in the 82kg Zagreb Open gold-medal bout. 

Aleksandrov trailed 7-0 after the first two minutes of action. He was dinged for passivity and thrown in the par terre position, where Kus grabbed four-points from a reverse lift and controlled the 5-0 advantage. Aleksandrov found himself down 7-0 after Kus grabbed another two for exposure, but got on the board with a step out point and trailed 7-1 heading into the second period. 

The Bulgarian exploded for seven unanswered points in the closing three minutes and hung on to the one-point lead, knocking off the noticeably deflated returning world runner-up, 8-7.

97kg FINALS - Ilia BORISOV (RUS) knocked off returning Budapest world runner-up Kiril MILOV (BUL) to win the 97kg Zagreb Open title. Borisov, the lone Russian finalist, tossed around the returning world finalist with ease and scored the 9-0 technical superiority victory in the opening period. 

Borisov grabbed the 1-0 lead after Milov was hit for passivity, then went to work in par terre, throwing Milov for four points and used a pair of gut wrenches to close out the 97kg gold-medal match with a 9-0 technical superiority victory. 

77kg QUARTERFINALS - Croatia's Bozo STARCEVIC stunned Olympic champion KIM Hyeonwoo (KOR), 8-2, in the quarterfinals, before ultimately winning his fifth consecutive Zagreb Open title. 

Starcevic avenged his 6-4 2016 Olympic bronze-medal bout loss to Kim, where the Korean wrestler claimed his second overall Olympic medal.

In their quarterfinals meeting on Saturday, Starcevic built a commanding 6-0 lead before Kim used an arm-spin to pick up his lone takedown, closing the deficit to 6-2. Starcevic somehow came away from Kim's arm-spin attempt with an exposure of his own and locked up his semifinals win with an 8-2 victory. 

130kg SEMIFINALS - Muminjon ABDULLAEV (UZB) blasted U23 world silver medalist Osman YILDIRIM (TUR), 9-0, in the semifinals, picking up his second consecutive victory over a world medalist. Abdullaev's first win over a world medalist came in the quarterfinals when he knocked off 2017 world bronze medalist Yasmani ACOSTA FERNANDEZ (CHI), 2-2.

The Uzbek nearly finished the job off and captured the 130kg gold medal but lost to Norway's Oskar MARVIK in the finals, 1-0. 

87kg SEMIFINALS - This all-Hungary semifinals bout was one of the Zagreb Open's most important matches. The reason being, Viktor LORINCZ and Erik SZILVASSY are battling for Hungary's 2019 Astana World Championship spot.

In their Zagreb Open semifinal's meeting, Lorincz scored the critical 3-0 win over the U23 world champion and grabbed a leg up on his fellow Hungarian heading into the second Greco-Roman Ranking Series event, the Hungarian Grand Prix.  

Lorincz went on to beat Sweden's Kristoffer BERG, 3-1 in the 87kg finals.