National head coach Banjong Sombat revealed in the yesterday's press conference of the World Women's Junior Volleyball Championship that the host side have a slime hope of making it to the semifinals, but is upbeat that his girls will repeat the feat over the twotime African champions Egypt in their opening match.
Team head coahces from 11 participating teams joined the yesterter's press interview, while Dominican Republic could not take part in the activity. The team had the transit visa problem in Paris and are due to arrive in town tomorrow morning.
Thailand, competing in the world meet for the third time as the host country, beat Egypt in straight sets in the warmup match three days ago and are expected to repeatedly power past the Egyptians, who finished the joint 11th position with the United States of America in the previous edition in Turkey two years ago.
"Due to the presence of strong teams in this championship, we have a slim hope of making it to the semifinals. That's why our target is just to finish the eighth position. If we reach the target, it will be a success," Banjong stressed.
"My girls have yet played many teams in our Group A. However, I think that among them are the USA, China and Germany which are strong teams to be reckoned with in the tournament. We beat Egypt in the warmup match, but the tomorrow's match against them can be anything. I think they must prepare well for the match and come much stronger. However, my players are also ready to go for the best in the championship. We are playing on home soil and we have a lot of home crowd to cheer us all the way. We just try to do our best."
On his team's chances against Thais today, Egyptian head coach Badrawy Hesham said, "I just hope that my team will play good matches in this tournament. We trained only two weeks in our country and one more week here in Nakhon Ratchasima. We lost to Thailand in straight sets in the warmup match a few days ago, but hope to make amends in the opener against the host side on Friday."
Meanwhile, Lizomar Moura, head coach of Brazil, defending and consecutive threetime champions and South American winners, brimmed with confidence that his girls can retain the crown and make it four times in a row here.
"Our senior men's national team won the recent World League, while our men's junior side also captured the World Men's Junior Volleyball Championship in Casablanca five days ago. I think it will be our pleasure and a great success alike if my girls can retain their world crown for the fourth time here. We have a tough draw and I think every team is coming much stronger this time. However, I hope that my girls will do their best in an effort of winning our sixth title in the world championship as well as defending our crown successfully," he said.
Brazil won the world championship in 1987 (Seoul, South Korea), 1989 (Lima), 2001 (Saskatoon, Canada), 2003 (Suphan Buri) and 2005 (Ankara, Turkey).
John Andrew Banachowski, head coach of the United States, admitted that his team did not train well, but believed that they will do their best in desperate situation.
"Our preparation for the world meet here is not that good. We trained only one week ahead of the trip to Thailand. Most of my players were committed to compete for their own clubs and that's why we had a little time to train together. Although I have yet seen any team play, I dare say that the tournament will be tough. However, I do hope that my girls will try their best," he said.
The USA never finished top three in the world championship. They finished a disappointing 11th in the previous edition in Turkey two years ago.
Cai Bin, head coach of the 1995 world champions and current Asian winners China, is also upbeat that his team will have a bright chance in the worldclass tournament.
"Winning the Asian Championship is not important to my team since that's only the qualification round for the world meet. Here, there are many strong teams my girls have yet seen them play. However, I have to see how my girls perform in the first round and then I can say how about my team's chances in the championship. I think we can beat any team in the tournament. I know my girls can do that."
The opening ceremony will take place at The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima's MCC Hall at 12.30pm, with the USA and Germany playing in the curtainraiser. The following matches comprise Egypt against Thailand, Dominican Republic against China, while the matches at the Chalerm Phrakiart Gymnasium see Japan take on Ukraine, Brazil face Croatia and Italy play Puerto Rico. Channel 7 televise the Thai match live at 4pm.
The Nation, Nakhon Ratchasima