The opening of the 2023 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship, where Asia’s top men’s volleyball clubs compete, is one day away. As Incheon Korean Air Jumbos seeks their first win after Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance, attention is drawn to the faces of their opponents. The opponent team has players who were eliminated in this V-League foreign player tryout, so their performance is noteworthy.
The Korean Air team, which has arrived in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, and is preparing for the tournament, will play a group stage match at the local ISA Sports City Stadium from the 14th (Korean time).
Dodram 2022-2023 Korean Air, which participated in the competition as the winning team in the men’s V-League, belonged to Group A out of four groups (total of 16 teams).
The opponents in Group A will face Korean Air once each, the home team, Bahrain’s Al Ahli Sports Club, Australia’s Canberra Heat, and Indonesia’s Jakarta Bayangkara Presici.
Korean Air will face Canberra on the 14th, Al Ahli on the 15th, and Jakarta on the 16th, and will play the first group stage for three days in a row. Only the top 2 in Group A can compete with the top 8 teams in the 2nd group stage.
The first opponent, Canberra, was the Australian Volleyball League champion last year. Canberra won their home league title in 2022, following in 2011 and 2015. At the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championships, he ranked 10th in 2017 and 9th in 2018.
The Canberra head coach is coach Ben Hardy, who has Olympic experience. Canberra recruited Matthew Aubry from Sweden and Adam Bradbury from England for this tournament.
One player to watch for Canberra is veteran and captain Andre Borzo. Borzo is a franchise star who has been active in Canberra since he was in his teens and now in his mid-30s.
In a recent interview with the Australian Volleyball Association, Borzo said, “I have competed in this tournament a few times. Unlike us, who have both jobs and training, the opposing teams are professional teams.” revealed
Borzo presented the goal of advancing to the quarterfinals. He explained, “It would be ecstatic to reach the quarterfinals, but it would be good to finish 9th to 12th,” he explained.
Regarding Canberra, the first opponent, Korean Air coach Tommy Tilikhainen showed some confidence, saying that he lacked information. He analyzed, “There is no data. The key point is how we do it.”
Al Ahli, the opponent in the second game, is the winner of the 2021-2022 Bahrain Volleyball League. In order to win the first ever championship in this tournament held in their country, Al-Ahli made a large-scale investment by recruiting three foreign players right before the tournament with petrodollars at the fore.
Yosbani Hernandez (Cuba), who confirmed going to Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance as the first in the V-League 2023 men’s foreign player tryout and draft, will play in this tournament as a member of Al Ahli. Yosbani, before joining Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance, received a large sum of money from Al Ahli and digested this tournament.
Gabriel Candido, an apositive striker from Brazil who played in the French league, will also play for Al Ahli in this tournament. Candido is a player who was not selected by Korean clubs in this foreign tryout.
Al-Ahli is burning his will to win the Italian and French leagues by urgently transfusing Davide Saita, a setter with thick bones. Saita is known as a veteran, rated as one of the world’s best setters.
Jakarta, the opponent in the third game, is the runner-up team in the 2023 Indonesian ProLiga.
One player to note in this team is Okello Daudi (Uganda). Dowdy Okello, who played for Hyundai Capital and KEPCO, attempted to return to the Korean stage in this tryout, but was not selected by the V-League clubs. Daudi, who returned to his team in Jakarta, Indonesia, seems to be planning revenge.
If Korean Air advances to the quarterfinals, there is a possibility of meeting the Japanese team Suntory Sunbirds. Suntory is the runner-up team in the Japanese V-League in the 2022-2023 season.
Suntory has Robert Randy Simon (Cuba), who won the Korean stage at OK Savings Bank, and Dmitri Mushalsky (Russia), who was considered the best middle blocker in the world.
Head coach Tillikainen, who has dealt with Mushalski while serving as Nagoya’s head coach in the Japanese league, also met and talked with Muchhalski at the lodgings for this tournament. Regarding Mushalski, coach Tillikainen expressed confidence, saying, “I hope we can meet and face off this time,” and “I have a counter tactic because I have dealt with (in Japan) before.”
On the 13th, the day before the opening of the tournament, Korean Air visited the Isa Sports City Stadium, the final arena, and digested the first practical training.
While Han and Kim Kyu-min voluntarily volunteered to serve as ball boys, the rest of the players practiced for 1 hour and 30 minutes starting at 4:30 pm under the direction of coach Tillikainen. Lim Dong-hyuk and Son Hyeon-jong, who will be appointed as a positive spiker on behalf of Lincoln, a foreign player who did not participate in this tournament, intensively hit the ball.
Jeong Han-yong, who will be put in as an outside hitter along with Kwak Seung-seok, also tried to attack frequently, raising the sense of the game.
During training that day, Han approached Jung Jin-hyeok, a junior setter who would play in his place, and gave him advice. Kim Gyu-min also had a conversation with his junior Kim Min-jae.안전놀이터
Korean Air players practiced with the Mikasa ball, the official ball for this tournament, different from the Star ball used in the V-League. A floater serve with a Mikasa ball can give you more variation than a star ball. During the training that day, coach Tillikainen and Kwak Seung-seok even imitated the ball with their hands, saying that the ball swayed greatly from side to side.
When Korean Air finished training around 6:00 p.m., Australian team Canberra players entered the opening match. As the players kept each other in check, coach Tillikainen shook hands with Canberra players he knew before leaving the field.