Thailand, Indonesia book first win in Southeast Asian Zonal Men’s Qualification Tournament
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, June 26, 2013 – Hosts Thailand pulled off a magnificent come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Vietnam, while Indonesia struggled to beat Myanmar in hard-fought five-set thriller on the first day of the Southeast Asian Zonal Men’s Qualification Tournament for the 2014 World Volleyball Championship.
Before a large crowd of home supporters, Thailand, current FIVB world No.48 and fourth place at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou of China, fielded a well-established line-up to outclass Vietnam (28-30, 25-23, 25-21 and 25-17).
Spearheaded by the two powerful hitters Jirayu Raksakaew and Kittikun Sriutthawong, and strengthened by the lanky 203cm Kissada Nilsawai – the tournament’s tallest player – Thailand led narrowly 12-10, thanks to Jirayu’s lightning-fast spikes and powerful jump serves. The host side stretched it to 20-15 when Kissada used his height advantage to attack at the net.
Things turned sour for Thailand when the visitors put their acts together to catch up with the hosts at 22-22. From then, the match became hotly-contested when both sides gave it all out, aiming to win the opener. As the Thais heightened their defence, Vietnam continued attacking well in the final assault to win the close first set 30-28.
In the second set, Thailand replaced hard-attacking Wanchai Tabwises with Kritsada Somkane and Kissada Nilsawai with Teerasak Nakprasong to improve their fortunes. Thailand had a good combination, courtesy of the brilliant blocking from Teerasak and Kittikun. Despite the strong challenges, Vietnam found the hosts a tough nut to crack to go down in the closely-contested battle 23-25.
Levelling 1-1, Thailand played with more confidence in the third set. Jirasak uncorked his explosive spikes, while Teerasak overcame the blockers with his excellent fast attacks at the wing. The host team took the set 25-21.
The fourth set was totally dominated by Thailand. Jirayu, Kritsada and Kittikun became major weapons of the host side, tearing the rivals’ defence into shreds with their aggressive attacks. Vietnam hit back bravely, but their determined efforts were short lived. Thailand remained strong tactically and technically to win the set 25-17 and the match.
Jirayu Raksakaew scored the highest 29 points including 21 ace spikes for Thailand, while Nguyen Huu Ha led Vietnam with 18 points.
Commenting on his team’s performance, Thailand’s head coach Monchai Suphajirakun said, “The victory is very satisfactory. My team’s performance lived up to my expectation. In the first set, we led Vietnam with a wide margin of five points. But, in the middle of the set, the Vietnamese were never-say-die, counter-attacking well to beat us finally.
“Wanchai (Tabwises) normally played well up to his standard, but he is unfit physically in this match,” Suphajirakun said. “I then decided to replace him with Kritsada (Somkane) in the second set to improve our game, while Kissada (Nilsawai) is young and inexperienced. I replaced him with Teerasak (Nakprasong). Following the replacement, our team played much better and that’s what counts for our win.”
“Vietnam is very strong,” he said. “At the last year’s AVC Cup, they played well to everyone’s surprise. We will meet them again in this December’s South East Asian Games inMyanmar and I think we have more to learn to make sure we can repeat the feat. We next take on Myanmar, another strong team in this tournament. However, we will try our best to beat them. The straight-set win over the rivals will then assure us a ticket to play in the final round.”
In the other match, Newly-formed Indonesia struggled hard to narrowly beat Myanmar in five-set thriller.
Indonesia, FIVB world ranked No. 52, came up with several new, young talents and a few experienced veterans including Agung Seganti and captain Ayip Rizal, whileMyanmar fielded an impressive line-up led by promising young star Aung Thu.
Indonesia, winners at the 2009 South East Asian Games in Laos, got off to a flying start in the first set. The I Putu Randu Wahyu’s fast attacks and the well-placed serves from Rizal helped Indonesia take the opening set 25-21.
Myanmar fared better in the second set. Kyaw Kyaw Htw and Pai Tha combined well in foiling the Indonesia’s attacking attempts before Aung Thu overcame the small blockers with his spectacular spikes. The frustrated Indonesia replaced several players with young talents to make amends, but their efforts were to no avail. Myanmarclinched the second set with the similar margin 25-21.
From then, both sides traded aggression, with Indonesia unleashing thundering spikes and solid blocks and Myanmar in exceptional defence. Myanmar took the third set 25-19 and the Indonesians avenged the loss to clinch the fourth set 25-21.
The decider saw Indonesia play a relaxed game, while Myanmar poured everything to match the formidable rivals tactically. As tension grew increasingly in their side, Myanmar became more prone with unforced attacking mistakes. Indonesia grabbed the chance to hit relentlessly to win the set 15-11 and the see-saw encounter.
Ayip Rizal scored 21 points for Indonesia, while Aung Thu led Myanmar with 21 points.
“This is a newly-formed Indonesia with several young players joining the team,” said Indonesia’s head coach Djanu Tjahdjono. “We did a lot of mistakes in this match against Myanmar. Our blocking ability did not work well in the first set, while the second set, the first-ball reception was not that impressive. The service mistakes were disappointing in the third set which saw my player lose six to nine points from their poor serves.”
“We trained only three weeks in preparation for this tournament, so I think with such a short training period, it’s rather difficult for us to make the cut for the final round,” he said. “However, we will do our best. I will still use these players for two major events this year, the Asian Senior Men’s Championship and the South East Asian Games inMyanmar.”
Single round-robin matches
Thailand vs. Vietnam 3-1 (28-30, 25-23, 25-21, 25-17)
Indonesia vs. Myanmar 3-2 (25-21, 21-25, 19-25, 25-21, 15-11)
Thursday, June 27, 2013
3pm: Vietnam vs. Indonesia
5pm: Thailand vs. Myanmar