The four semi-finalist countries of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup - India, Iran, Republic of Korea and Thailand - are all set to put up a big fight to win the tournament.
Over the last 13 days, the tournament saw some powerful performances by over 150 athletes from India, the United States of America, England, Australia, Iran, Kenya, Poland, Thailand, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Japan, and Argentina. We saw a lot of memorable performances, great comebacks, big upsets, and emergence of new talent in the group stage of the tournament.
Now the intensity of competition is expected to reach unprecedented levels as the final four - India, Iran, Republic of Korea and Thailand - clash for the ultimate prize at The Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad.
The four teams playing the semifinals on 21 October, will each come to the big matches with their own unique approach.
India, with an experienced raid team and solid defense to back them, will look to dominate Thailand when they face off in their semi-final match. India recovered very well from their last minute loss to Republic of Korea in the opening match and has won all its four remaining group stage matches easily.
It will be a treat for the fans to watch India's captain Anup Kumar drive the team forward for the biggest challenges of his Kabaddi career so far.
India's opponent in the last four, Thailand, came to the tournament with a young squad that is fit, agile and boasts of a strong defence. Led by Khomsan Thongkam, the team put up quite a challenge in the group stage by beating a very physical Kenya. They displayed brilliant composure in their last group stage match against Japan recovering from 8 points down to come back and win.
A loss with the 8 point margin would have knocked them out of the tournament. Captain Khomsan Thongkham and his team have won the hearts of fans with their spirited performance till now and will be expected to challenge India in a big way.
Republic of Korea had started off the tournament on a high note by defeating one of the favorites, India, in the opening match of the tournament. They have won all five matches at the group stage and topped their group ahead of India. Captain Dong Ju Hong and team will look towards charismatic raider Jan Kun Lee to energise the team with his exceptional performance.
Jan Kun Lee raided brilliantly in the last minutes of their two toughest matches -against India and Bangladesh - to help the team come back from behind and win.
Iran was billed as one the favorites to win the World Cup trophy going into the tournament. They have justified the expectations by playing exceptionally with Captain Meraj Sheyk leading from the front.
The team is filled with stars especially in a power packed defensive unit which has made life tough for raiders across teams. One can expect a great contest when Republic of Korea's raiders face off against Iran's defense in their semi-final match.
If we just go by the number of startling performances at the group stage of 2016 Kabaddi World Cup, one can expect the unexpected from the semifinal matches.
Commenting on the occasion, Janardan Singh Gehlot, president, International Kabaddi Federation said, "2016 Kabaddi World Cup has brought forth the extraordinary potential and enthusiasm exhibited by all the 12 participating teams. The excitement among kabaddi fans is rising with every match and we are looking forward to some great kabaddi in the semifinals and the final.