India men’s volleyball team departs for Asian Olympic Qualifiers

The Indian side would be playing Qatar, Australia and South Korea in the qualifiers to be held in China.

By Subhayan Dutta ·

Vinit Kumar of Uttarakhand will lead the 14-man Indian volleyball squad picked by the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) at the AVC Tokyo Volleyball Qualifiers as they look to seal a place at the 2020 Olympic qualification tournament.

The Indian Spikers will be in the Chinese city of Jiangmen for the event, slated to begin on January 7, with the contingent to be managed by Irvin De Menino Jesus Soares.

G.E Sridharan is named as the head coach while Naresh Kumar and Rajesh Kumar Singh are the assistant coaches.

The India team had finished second in the Asian men's championship in Tehran, Iran, in September last year under the leadership of Mohan Ukkrapandian.

They faced Kazakhstan, China and Oman there and ended the tournament finishing second in the group with wins over Kazakhstan and Oman. The top-two finishers from each group made the cut for the Asian qualifiers.

Olympic qualification procedure

The 2020 Men's Olympic volleyball tournament in Tokyo will have 12 teams - the hosts, the winners of each of six intercontinental Qualifying Tournaments, and five continental Olympic qualification tournament champions.

The teams that have already qualified for the event won’t be playing in the qualification tournaments. Apart from the Asian Qualifiers, there would be African, European, South American and North American Qualifiers as well.

India’s way ahead

India has been clubbed with Australia, South Korea and Qatar in pool B, while Iran, Chinese Taipei, China and Kazakhstan form pool A of the Asian Qualifiers. Kazakhstan replaced India’s neighbour and South Asian Games finalist Pakistan in the first group after they withdrew from the tournament.

India is scheduled to play Qatar on January 7, with fixtures against South Korea and Australia on January 8 and 9 respectively. Apart from the winning points, the pool standing procedure would also take match points, sets ratio, points ratio and the result of the last match between the tied teams into consideration.

India hope to carry momentum

The Indian team was their domineering best at the South Asian Games last month, where they clinched the gold medals in both the men’s and women’s events.

The men’s team saw off arch-rivals Pakistan in a hard-fought final that went down to the wire with a scoreline of 20-25, 25-15, 25-17 and 29-27 (3-1), before India emerged victorious.