Ardabil, Iran, May 3, 2017 – Thailand overcame a daunting task in their decisive match against Sri Lanka to produce a fantastic comeback 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-18) victory over the fighting rivals at the SMM 2nd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the 6,000-seater Rezazadeh Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.
In the opening set, Thailand found it very difficult to stop Sri Lanka as they started to take a commanding lead in the second technical time-out. The Thai players seemed to underestimate the inexperienced rivals in the opening set and let them run away with the hard-fought set win 25-23.
Sri Lanka continued their dominance in the second set leaving Thai players behind 3-0, but Thailand’s head coach Monchai Supajirakul after that used better tactics to annul the opponents’ plans. The Thai squad caught up with the rivals at 15-15, advanced 16-15 and held on to win the set 25-21.
Sri Lanka did not give up as coach Hettiarachchige used substitutions to get the team out of trouble but Thailand were more determined and finally snatched the third and fourth sets 25-19 25-18 respectively. With the dramatic win, Thailand became the second team in Pool D to make the cut for the quarter-finals.
Thai coach Monchai admitted that his players did not underestimate the opponents, claiming that they lost the first set just because “the match was crucial for both sides as Thailand and Sri Lanka needed a must win in this match to ensure their place in the quarter-finals.”
Monchai fielded captain Mawin Manewong in the middle of third set because “he has a short time practising with team-mates as he was in the military service.”
Mawin said: “We played a five-set match against Japan on Tuesday and we were so tired that we could not play in full measure in the opening set against Sri Lanka.”
Purist Phonarin, who played only the first two sets along with Kantapat Koonme compiled the highest score with 17 points apiece.
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