Thai spikers face Asia's best for place at worlds

Thai spikers face Asia's best for place at worlds

Undaunted by the formidable array of international talent, hosts Nakhon Ratchasima have targeted a top-four finish in the 17th Princess Cup Chang Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championship, at the Nakhon Pathom Municipality Gymnasium from April 17 to 25.

At stake for Asia's 10 best teams is a berth to represent the continent at the FIVB World Women's Club Championship from May 7 to 11 in Switzerland.

The group stage has 2002 champions Hisamitsu Springs of Japan, Iran's Martin Varamin, Vietnam's VTV Cup winners Thong Tin Lienvietpostbank and Nakhon Ratchasima in Pool A, while Pool B comprises India's KSEB, Kazakhstan's Zhetyssu, Singapore's VAS, the Philippines' PLDT, Taiwan's Taipei and former four-time winners Bohai Bank Tianjin of China.

April 17 will see Nakhon Ratchasima begin their challenge against Martin Varamin, a match televised live from 4pm on Channel 7 and SMM TV. Nakhon Ratchasima's head coach Suthichai Chanbunchee admitted at yesterday's press conference that his team could suffer from a lack of training time.

"Our commitments in the ongoing Thailand League means training for the Asian Club meet has taken a back seat. The team still aren't ready for the tough competition, but I hope to start serious training with the full squad in the days ahead of our departure for Nakhon Pathom on April 14," said Suthichai.

"Our opener against Iran's Martin Varamin, a team we've never played before, shouldn't be a problem. But we won't underestimate any team. Although it's a daunting challenge, our target is still a top-four finish," Suthichai added.

In related news, Shanrit Wongprasert, vice president of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC), announced that the AVC headquarters will be shifted from Beijing to Bangkok this year.

"This could help promote the sport of volleyball in Asia and Thailand in particular," Shanrit said.

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