Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam won the opening match of the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship, held in Ninh Bình Province on Wednesday.
The host team, which has national team players who need a warm-up for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games, beat Al-Bahri Sport Club from Iraq 22-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-23 in Group A’s first match at the Ninh Bình Gymnasium.
Despite strong support from more than 1,000 local fans, Việt Nam started off with poor performance, allowing Al-Bahri to race ahead with their powerful volleys and stable defence. Jameel Nasser Aseel steered his team to a first-set win 25-22 with a smash that came to the far corner.
However, Việt Nam did not give up, and stormed back in the next three sets.
Blocker Nguyễn Hoàng Thương and spikers Từ Thanh Thuận and Ngô Văn Kiều rotated to attack Al-Bahri, giving them no chance to block their smashes. The Iraqi team fought back, but miscommunications between lines played a key role in their defeat. “My players played nervously in the first set as this is their first match in the tournament, while our opponents played very well,” said Việt Nam’s coach Phùng Công Hưng.
“The Iraqis are tall and have high blocks, and their volleys are really powerful. We adjusted by playing a quick game in the following three sets, and things got better. My middle blocker Thương played a good match, scoring many crucial points,” Hưng said at the post-match briefing. Thương scored 20 points, the highest among his teammates, while Thuận made 18. On the other side, Jameel Nasser Aseel led Al Bahri with 17 points.
“Although we have trained together for four months ahead of this championship, we have yet to think how far we can go in this tournament. We will focus on winning one match at a time and advancing to the next round. I would like to thank all fans who cheered us. We will try our best in this tournament,” Hưng said.
Việt Nam will have a rest day on Thursday and will play Sri Lanka Ports Authority in their next match on Friday. “The Sri Lankans are a strong side with some experienced players. It’s going to be a tough match, but we will try our best,” Hưng said.
In other event games on Wednesday, Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza from Japan pulled off a 25-17, 27-25, 25-20 victory over Thailand’s Air Force VC in their Group B opener.
In the second match, Qatar’s Al Arabi Sports Club, silver medallists in the previous year, proved too strong for Australia’s Canberra Heat in comprehensive straight sets 25-15, 25-18, 25-21.
Meanwhile, the Nam Định Province’s Gymnasium saw two matches. In Group C, Kazakhstan’s Altay VC saw off Yan Chai from Hong Kong in straight sets 25-15, 25-21, 25-20.
In the Group D clash, China’s Beijing Baic Motor had a field day in their opening match against Maldivian Sports and Recreation Club, downing their opponents in a quick 25-11, 25-9, 25-23 win.
On Thursday, three matches will be played at the Ninh Bình Gymnasium: Thailand’s Air Force will go up against Beijing Baic Motor; Qatar’s Al Arabi will take on Hong Kong’s Yan Chai; and Iraq’s Al-Bahri Sport Club will play Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
The remaining three matches will take place at the Nam Định Gymnasium, with Australia’s Canberra Heat facing Kazakhstan’s Altay; Japan’s Toyoda Gosei Trenfuerza meeting Maldivian Sports and Recreation Club; and reigning champions Bank Sarmayeh from Iran pitted against Chinese Taipei’s Taichung Commercial Bank. — VNS