Lalitpur, August 10
Nepal national volleyball team Head Coach Hann Abing was satisfied with the progress of the players but said expecting a medal from the team without playing practice matches before the tournament would be unfair.
Nepali volleyball team is preparing for the AVC Asian Senior Men’s Central Zone Volleyball Tournament to be held at the Nepali Army Sports Complex covered hall from August 19-24. A total of seven nations — Nepal, defending champions Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh — are taking part in the tournament being held in Nepal for the first time.
Abing took charge of the team two months ago and he has been training the team in two to three shifts. “When I look my first week here, I can see real improvement in the boys. I am satisfied with their progress as the guys are taking my input and are putting in a lot of hard work to bring that out on the court,” said the Dutchman. “They are improving gradually and they are a little bit closer every day.”
Nepal had won bronze in the same competition two years ago in Maldives after finishing third in the four-team tournament for their maiden international medal. But coach Abing said expecting a medal form a team without competitive matches before the event will not be fair. “As we have not played competitive matches before the tournament, it will not be fair to the guys to say it in public. We can make a real aim for a medal if we play before the tournament,” he added.
The Nepal Volleyball Association has confirmed two friendly matches against Afghanistan on August 14-15.
“After the matches, I can see how the players act in a game, how they act under pressure, their reaction on losing a point or on the decision of referee.
All these things can be assessed during competitive matches and as long as I don’t know these things, it’s not fair to expect a medal from the team,” said Abing.
Abing said he focused on blocking and serve during training. “The players did not have problems in general fitness and they had good skills when I took over the team. So we worked on organising the team better and we did a lot of work on blocking. As per the statistics, the team was not strong in serve. We were not in the best situation to make a point by reducing the unforced errors,” he said.
The Netherlands coach said volleyball these days has become a mental game and the players needed to know small details including celebrating a point and controlling the emotions. “The players, their jumping and motivation are all good. And they are very enthusiastic in cheering about a point. But the players need to learn all these things as they cannot cheer for too long as we need to add 25 points. They should know when to relax as well. I am trying to help them to improve in these areas and a little bit control on emotions in the game,” he added.
Skipper Em Rana said the team was learning to correct the minor mistakes and take the game ahead. “I won’t say we have improved drastically in these two months as it is a short period. We could have done better preparation by bringing in the coach a little bit earlier,” said Rana. “The coach has mainly focused on improving in receiving and blocking. For the last two days, we have been working in setting the team by playing matches,” he said.
Rana said the squad had a couple of new faces and their performance would be crucial in team’s progress. “We are also not sure about the performance of the new players and the team management was also indifferent towards my request to go with the old formation,” he said.
The skipper said playing on home court in front of fans would be an advantage and pressure at the same time. “We need to give our 100 per cent all the time and we are excited to play on home court as we get a lot of support from the crowd. But it can be a pressure also as we cannot afford to make mistakes in front of the fans,” said Rana.
A version of this article appears in print on August 11, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.