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Thailand looking for change of fortune at home

Bangkok, Thailand, July 6, 2005 - The Thai and US teams will renew their rivalry in Friday’s curtain-raiser of the World Grand Prix final leg in Bangkok, with local fans expected to give the home team an edge and help them avenge their recent loss to the Americans in China.

The third leg of the tournament in Bangkok features four teams - the US, Japan, Poland and Thailand – and they will play in a round-robin three-day meet at The Mall Bangkapi's MCC Hall.

A coach’s press conference took place on Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel to give all four participating teams a chance to comment on their preparation and chances towards the World Grand Prix Bangkok leg.
Pic: Sermsak Pongpanich, deputy Interior Minister and president of Volleyball Association of Thailand, seated in the centre, presides over the welcome party and press interview for all four participating teams in the 2005 World Grand Prix in Bangkok
Apart from the press interview, Sermsak Pongpanich, deputy Interior Minister and president of the Volleyball Association of Thailand, delivered a welcome speech to all participants.

"By taking part in the World Grand Prix 2005 in Bangkok, foreign teams will stand a better chance to explore Thailand and it will also be a good opportunity for Thai fans and youngsters to watch the world's premier women's Volleyball tournament,” he said. “Certainly, it's a rare chance for us to watch such a world-class event.

Six-time SEA Games champions Thailand did not win a single set in the last two legs in China and the Philippines and have only six points from six straight losses.

"My players are unfit, like they were last year. Many players including captain Patcharee Sangmuang and Piyamas Koyjapoh have suffered injuries," Thai head coach Sutichai Chanbunchee said. "We had to take on the world's best teams such as world champions Italy, Athens Olympic champions China and former consecutive three-time Olympic champions Cuba and our expectations against them could not be that high.

"We hope to improve on our form in Bangkok. We lost to the US in Ningbo [China] and I told my girls to do their best to avenge that loss on home soil. Although it's rather tough to beat the US, I told my girls to win at least a set from them or try to make it a close match."
Pic: The Thailand national women's team
Chinese volleyball legendary Lang Ping, head coach of the US team, said she is happy her team has a chance to play in Thailand in the third and final leg of the tournament.

"We beat Thailand in Ningbo and we will try to repeat the feat," she said. "However, I admit that we will have a tough time here because we have to beat both the Thai side and their home fans."

Meanwhile, Japan's head coach Shoichi Yanagimoto said only four players in his team experienced the Athens Olympic Games. He plans to reshuffle his players during the competition, with new talent replacing the old.

"This will give them a chance to obtain competition experience."

Polish head coach Andrzej Niemczyk has struggled with cancer over the years despite the fact that he still has a lot of work with the Polish national women's team. "That's okay. I have no problem with it. The deadly disease could not affect my dedication to my team. We hope to be victorious in Bangkok."

The three-day World Grand Prix final leg in Bangkok kicks off on Friday, with USA taking on Thailand at 2pm (local time) and Japan playing Poland at 5pm.

Fuji TV will televise all Japan's matches live to their country, while UBC 36 will broadcast all matches live in Thailand.