India targeted in Olympic qualifiers in Asian volleyball

KOCHI: Near the heels of the unprecedented success of the silver medal of U-23 men from India on a continental level, the responsibility lies with the senior team to emulate their juniors as they approach Asian men Volleyball Championship to be held in Tehran from September 13 to 21.

Coach Dragan Mihailovic But he has set a realistic goal of finishing in the top eight that should provide them with a place in the Olympic qualifiers scheduled for January next year, because he feels that India is not yet ready to challenge the great canyons in Asian competition.

India is in Group C with China, Kazakhstan and Oman, and although the latter is ranked 131 in the world, on a par with India, the other two are in the top 40. There are at least ten Asian countries ranked among the first 60 and the Serbian tactician of India wants to take one step at a time.

We need to be realistic, India is not on the map of serious countries that play volleyball and this is a big problem, Mihailovic said.

Position eight is our goal, our goal. We need to beat Kazakhstan, we must try to beat Oman and with China, whatever happens is good. If we can be second in our group, we have the ticket for the Olympic qualification in January, the Serbian told TOI from Qatar, where the team is training.

The former assistant coach of the Serbian national team, however, is satisfied with his team's preparations, since they were in the routine for the last two months, starting with a preparatory camp at SAI Bengaluru before flying to Qatar last week, for a series of friendly against the highest. Qualified opponents

India has at least eight friendlies lined up until September 9, against Asian heavyweights Qatar, China and Australia.

Our boys do not have the opportunity to be very often outside the country and play great international tournaments. Only then can you reach this level, compete and try to beat them. We have the right players and you have to make sure one million percent that we choose the best possible combination for any situation that may occur in the Asian championship, Mihailovic said.

Meanwhile, India suffered a setback after losing ace blocker Karthik Madhu from an injury and was replaced by LM Manoj. There are three Kerala players in the team: Ajithlal , Akhin GS & Jerome Vinith .