UAE take on Thailand in Asian volleyball opener

Hosts UAE take on the fastest improving side in the continent, Thailand at 7.30pm at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Saturday after the opening ceremony at 6.30pm in the 17th chapter of the Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championships.

By Moni Mathews

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Published: Sat 28 Sep 2013, 10:13 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:11 AM

The UAE are all set for an improved show on the international stage after their preparatory camps and the last chapter of the Rashid tournament.

With the pullout of Jordan in Pool A and Indonesia from Pool H, there will be only one match each in these sections to decide the top placings.

This guaranteed entry into the knockout phase of the originally 24-team, eight-day event will see Thailand and the UAE advance to the pre-quarter-finals from Pool A while Pakistan and Lebanon have a similar situation in Pool H after Indonesia’s last-minute disappointment.

Defending champions Iran and runners-up China, both eligible to play in the World Championship in Poland next season, should have no problems in progressing to the Round of 16.

Iran’s progress may be put to test by the well drilled Kazakhs in Pool C action while Kuwait who boasts of a strong pro-league are less likely to push the Iranians hard. The tussle for second place here will decide the second pre-quarter side from this pool.

Chinese Taipeh and Saudi Arabia have a tough task cut out in Pool D when they take on the might of the spikes and blocks at the Great Wall.

The other strong contenders, Japan, who missed on qualification for the worlds for the very first time in their history and South Korea, another world championship qualifier, have weak opposition in Pools E and G.

The crowd pullers will as usual be India and Pakistan who have both finished fourth once in the tournament’s history.

These are the sides that have been the main attraction of the annual Rashid event in Dubai where the large expat crowds have packed every inch of the Al Shabab Stadium.

However, India have a treacherous path ahead of them in Pool G as Qatar and Uzbekistan will strive hard for last 16 slots.

Pakistan, and Lebanon who also have a big fan support here will be engaged in a hot duel to decide Pool H placings.

World Championships qualifier, Australia, from inception have provided Asian volleyball with an interesting mixture of the European and Latin styles.

Pool B aspirants Bahrain and Myanmar will not be able to withstand the Aussie onslaught at the net with Bahrain being seeded to go into the next phase behind Australia.

After the world youth championships a long time ago and the annual Rashid international events, the 17th Asian men’s tourney is the biggest volleyball happening in the city after a very long time.

moni@khaleejtimes.com



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