The Indians were beaten 0-3 in the first match of their group stage at the Men's Continental Tokyo Volleyball Qualification event in China.
The Indian men’s volleyball team began their campaign at the Men's Continental Tokyo Volleyball Qualification event — the 2020 Olympic qualifier — in Jiangmen, China with a 0-3 loss to Qatar.
In what was a closely fought match, though the Indian spikers stayed on their opponent’s heels for the larger part of it, they couldn’t force the issue as they went down 22-25, 20-25, 23-25.
The Indians will take on South Korea next Wednesday before lining up against the Australians a day after, knowing fully well that anything less than a win on both occasions will end their hopes of making it to the 2020 Olympics.
Coming into the Olympic qualifiers on the back of a title-winning run at the 2019 South Asian Games, the Indians were hoping to build on the momentum against Qatar in their opening game. But the reigning Asian Cup champions were in no mood to let the Indian have their way as they started brightly.
Leading the line for the Qataris was the experienced Geraldo Graciano Da Silva Filho. The Al Rayyan spiker was in top form as he poked and probed the Indian defence with his powerful and sharp smashes to amass 15 points from his attacks.
While Filho went on a rampage at the net, the likes of Belal Nabel Abunabot and Ibrahim ensured that there were no slip-ups at the back as they held their defence tight making life difficult for the Indians to eke out points in their foray.
Moreover, with the likes of Mohan Ukkrapandian and captain Vinit Kumar failing to find form, the Indians failed to capitalise on their opponent’s errors, further exacerbating their situation and struggling to find a way back into the tie.
C Jerome Vinith was the top scorer for the Indians with 12 points from his 21 attempts, while GKS Akhin contributed with seven points from his nine attempts.