Pakistan volleyballers start Asiad journey today

Alam Zeb Safi
Tuesday, Sep 19, 2023

LAHORE: Aiming to do a graceful job this time, Pakistan will begin their Asian Games men’s volleyball journey on Tuesday (today) when they meet Mongolia in their Group D opener at the Linping Sports Centre Gymnasium in Hangzhou.

Chinese Taipei is the other team in Pakistan’s group. “I am so excited to see our players on the court again,” Pakistan’s Brazilian coach Issanaye Ramires Ferraz told The News from Hangzhou.

”We did some adjustments in the team after the Asian Championships. In my opinion our team has grown up,” Issanaye said. “Now the players have to work as a team and transfer the practices to the games,” the coach said.

Pakistan finished seventh in the Asian Championships in Iran last month which has raised huge concerns in the ranks of the team’s management and Pakistan Volleyball Federation (PVF). However it is expected that the brigade will be able to finish at a graceful spot this time.

Issanaye sees Pakistan’s chances in the first two games against Mongolia and Chinese Taipei as bright. “Yes, great chances,” he said. “But I am always thinking match by match,” the coach was quick to add.

Pakistan will be playing against Mongolia and Chinese Taipei in less than 24 hours. “It will be tough as we have to play twice in less than 24 hours,” the coach said.

Issanaye appreciated the facilities offered by the Asian Games hosts to the teams. “The facilities are amazing and I think its Olympic Games level facilities. The weather is good too,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan team manager Saeed Ahmad said that on Monday the unit underwent hard training at the main gymnasium where they will be playing against Mongolia. “It was a fine practice session and there was no issue for the boys,” Saeed told The News.

“We also held a meeting today and discussed the weak and strong points of Mongolia and we are hopeful that we will be able to take a fine start,” Saeed said. He said that top diet is being provided by the hosts.

“The diet is excellent. Although we will be playing a second game after 12 hours we have planned for that and the boys will be asked to take the required rest,” Saeed said.

Pool A consists of hosts China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan while defending champions Iran have been clubbed in Pool B with Nepal and Bahrain. Korea, India and Cambodia form Pool C, Pool E comprises Qatar, Thailand and Hong Kong while Japan, together with Indonesia, Philippines and Afghanistan form Pool F.

The leading two sides from each pool will advance to the round of 12 with the qualified teams contesting cross matches (B1 v E2, A2 v F1, A1 v F2, B2 v E1, C1 v D2, C2 v D1). The six triumphant teams from here will fight for 1-6 rankings with the remaining six relegating to the 7-12 rankings.

Pakistan’s biggest achievement in the Asian Games volleyball history is their third-place finish in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games. In the last Asian Games held in Indonesia in 2018 Pakistan finished eighth.

Pakistan squad: Abdul Zaheer, Hamid Yazman, Farooq Haider, Murad Khan, Murad Jehan, Mohammad Hammad, Musawar Khan, Nasir Ali, Usman Faryad Ali, Mubashar Raza (captain), Mohammad Kashif Naved, Afaq Khan; Officials: Issanaye Ramires Ferraz (coach), Naseer Ahmed, Ihsan Iqbal, Armin Golkari (video analyst), Lucas Ferreira Rodrigues (trainer), Saeed Ahmed Khan (manager).