Winless Nepal crashes out of AVC Championship

Published On: August 22, 2019 09:13 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Aug 22: Nepal national volleyball team has crashed out of ongoing AVC (Asian Volleyball Confederation) Central Zone Men’s Volleyball Championship after second successive loss. It lost against the Maldives, in a match played at Nepal Army Sports and Physical Training Center in Lalitpur on Wednesday.

In a must-win match for both the teams, Nepal’s performance kept going down along with the sets with a score of 22-25, 21-25, 14-25 in three straight sets respectively against the Maldives to bow out from the tournament.

Kyrgyzstan, which also won against Nepal in the Group A opening match, had defeated the Maldives on straight sets of 25-15, 26-24, 25-19 in its second game on Tuesday providing both the Maldives and Nepal with a chance to advance to semifinal with a win on Wednesday. 

Earlier, Nepal had conceded the first match against Kyrgyzstan in straight sets of 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 in Group A. Nepal, despite coming in from good form of 2-0 friendly series win against Afghanistan prior to the tournament, failed to win a single set (out of six). Nepal had accumulated 67 points against Kyrgyz’s 75, however, losing all three sets.

Nepal went in the match confidently with statistics in its favor. In the last five meetings between the sides, Nepal had clinched three games. The plan was to attack the Maldives with weakening the receive and foiling the spike which did not turn out as planned in the must-win encounter.

Fans had turned up in large numbers at the venue expecting Nepal to overturn the deficit after closely losing first two sets. The volleyball national team gave its worst performance in the third set which became last in the championship. Nepal could only collect a total of 57 points compared to 67 against Kyrgyzstan.

The top two teams, Kyrgyzstan and the Maldives have reached the semifinals with the second placed the Maldives facing Uzbekistan, the winner of Group B. Similarly, Nepal will play the third-placed Group B team in fifth place playoff.

Uzbekistan won all its three games against defending champions Turkmenistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to secure the top spot.

Nepal skipper Em Bahadur Rana was concerned over inadequate trainings before the tournament despite the association knowing about the matches back in 2017.

“We never had the adequate preparations while coming into the tournament. Though we had been training for last two months, we were traveling from home and we stayed in the closed camp only for a week,” said Rana in the post-match comments.

Similarly, he further added that the team did not miss Man Bahadur Rana and were not able to do the justice to receive and block despite working on it for two months.

“I don’t think it was due to absence of Man Bahadur [Rana]. He is just a popular player but good enough at top level. We simply were not able to defend or block which cost us the match.”

Nepal head coach Han Abing had emphasized on the need of regrouping and staying mentally and emotionally strong for the virtual knock-out match which did not happen according to him.

“The boys were not focused in the match. It can’t happen in matches like this. It shows that we need to play these kinds of match more often to improve ourselves. Unfortunately, with the absence of the captain during the third set we lost all the concentration.”

In Group B match, undefeated Uzbekistan overcame Afghanistan 25-23, 29-27, 29-27 to advance to semifinals as group winner and book a semifinal clash with Group A runner-up Maldives.

Likewise, defending champion Turkmenistan beat Bangladesh 25-22, 25-16, 27-29, 25-16 in last Group B match. Turkmenistan, who finished behind the group winner Uzbekistan, will face Group A winner Kyrgyzstan in another semifinal match.

The semifinal matches will be played on Thursday.

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