|National women's volleyball team train in the 5000-seater Đại Yên Gymnasium in Hạ Long City, Quảng Ninh Province. VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Thị Vân
HÀ NỘI — Defending their silver medal will not be an easy task for coach Thái Thanh Tùng and the female volleyball players at the SEA Games 31, but they are ready to give their all to do so.
The team believe home-court advantage will be a big part of their success.
Thailand are reigning champions and favourites to retain the title. The rest of the teams, especially Việt Nam, Indonesia and the Philippines, will likely battle it out for second place.
"Thailand are at a world level. They are very strong with powerful attacks and dynamic tactics. ASEAN teams can't vie with them," coach Tùng said.
"In the last three SEA Games, Indonesia and the Philippines have grown stronger too. We could only beat with narrow scores in difficult matches. I hope that with strong home support, my players will play well," he said.
Three years ago in Manila, Indonesia threatened to steal silver from Việt Nam, but capitulated in semis.
This year, the Indonesian volleyball federation has targeted gold.
Coach Tùng and his players have been training in Quảng Ninh Province for a month in preparation for their competition.
He believes that with his key spiker Trần Thị Thanh Thúy, who returned home after a spell in Japan, and giant attacker Nguyễn Thị Bích Tuyền, who agreed to serve the national team after refusing many times, Tùng will have a powerful frontline.
He will also have some new faces on the team and what they lack in experience, they make up for in talent.
Women's volleyball will be held from May 13 to May 22 at the 5,000-seater Đại Yên Gymnasium in Hạ Long City, Quảng Ninh Province.
Five teams, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Việt Nam, will play in a round-robin tournament. The two best teams will advance to the final. The third and fourth-placed teams after the round-robin will play for bronze.
Việt Nam will first play Malaysia on May 14.
The Việt Nam Volleyball Federation has revealed that they are mobilising sponsors for the team and believe to have a purse of VNĐ1 billion to deliver to the team if they can grab gold.
It will be VNĐ500 million for silver and around VNĐ200-300 million for bronze.
The federation will make an official announcement as soon as possible.