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FIVB Men's World Olympic Qualification Tournament


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Thailand prepare for mammoth task at Men's World Olympic qualifier

Thailand's Wanchai Tapvises attacks at the 2006 Doha Games

Bangkok, Thailand, May 27, 2008 - Thailand Head Coach Monchai Supajirakul admitted his team have a slim chance of making the cut for the Beijing Olympic Games due to the presence of much stronger sides in the Men's World Olympic Qualification Tournament at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Japan from May 31 to June 8.

The Thai squad will leave for Tokyo on May 29 and open their campaign against the Asian champions Australia in the single round-robin competition on May 31. They will next take on Algeria on June 1 before taking a rest day the following day. Thailand go up against Iran and hosts Japan on June 3 and 4.

June 5 will be a rest day, and the Thai team will then challenge Argentina, Italy and South Korea on June 6, 7 and 8, respectively.

"Our team is newly-formed. Most of the players are young and inexperienced. It's a team for the next year's South East Asian Games. Despite the dim chance in the World Olympic Qualification Tournament, I'm quite certain that this can be a vital stepping stone of my players for their brighter future in major competitions," said Supajirakul.

"It's very difficult to set an initial target in the tournament. Every team is much stronger than us. Either a set win over each team or that we can score more than 20 points in each set is our moderate success in the star-studded tournament. All rivals have the height advantage over my players and to fight them, therefore, is not an easy task.

"At the last year's Asian Championship in Indonesia, Australia reigned supreme. We played Iran and China in hard-fought five-setters before going down in both matches, but we also sprang a surprise by overpowering Japan. However, things are totally different. Japan are playing on home soil this time, while the other teams are also much stronger than our team. I dare not expect any win over each participating team," said Supajirakul.

"I confess that to win a berth for the Beijing Games is a tough mission. Our expectation is much more difficult than the Thai women's team. However, I just have my fingers crossed and hope for the best that my players will give their utmost effort in the Tokyo meet."

The Thai team have been training intensively at the Sports Training Centre inside the Sports Authority of Thailand for months. Hard-attacking Wanchai Tapvises and Kittikun Sriutthawong, both of whom have competed in professional leagues in Dubai, and Yuranun Buadaeng from the Vietnamese League also joined the team for the Tokyo trip.

Thailand's best performance in a major Volleyball tournament was in 2005 Asian Championship on home soil in Suphan Buri province when they finished a surprise fifth following a playoff win over powerhouse Iran.

In Tokyo, hosts Japan will compete alongside Algeria, Argentina and Italy in the tournament that doubles up as the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament, with Australia, Korea, Iran and Thailand as the four best-ranked teams at the Asian Continental Championship completing the line-up.

Only the winner of the tournament plus the best Asian team (even if the winner is Asian) will qualify for the Beijing Games in August.

Thailand's line-up: Jirayu Raksakaew; Montree Waenpradab; Wanchai Tapvises; Apipong Vihokthong; Chotiwat Tewsuwan; Yuranun Buadaeng; Kittikun Sriutthawong; Piyarat Thuntapthai (libero); Phitsanu Hankhamtan; Pongsakorn Nimawan (captain); Theerayuth Sriphon and Saranjit Charoensuk.
Team manager: Chukiart Thaiyai
Head Coach: Monchai Supajirakul
Assistant coach: Sunthorn Phoseeta
Trainer: Khajornsak Manapornchai
Team Doctor: Id Lorprayoon



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