How each Asian team can make the Final Six

Wednesday, 10 Oct 2018
Lawrence Fernandez - Editor - @lancefernandez

Three teams continue to stand for Asia in the FIVB Women’s World Championship 2018 after Kazakhstan and South Korea did not make it past the first round. Here’s how China, Japan, and Thailand can clinch a Final Six slot for the third round of competitions.

Team Thailand – end of the line?

Thailand deserves to be the sentimental champion of the tournament given the injuries that their top scorers Pimpichaya Kokram and Ajcharaporn Kongyot suffered. Being undermanned did not hinder them from making it to round two and that five-set victory over the South Koreans definitely helped. That could be as far as they can go though for the odds are not leaning towards their cause.

The Thais have suffered two straight-sets losses to the Chinese and Italian teams which are likely to make it to the next phase. The wards of Coach Danai Sriwatchamaytakul fought valiantly against their co-Asian representatives by losing two of the three sets by just two points. However, the absence of their ace spikers was heavily felt against Italy as they scored a dismal average of 14 points per set.

It would be impossible for them to make the third round even if they win their remaining games against Bulgaria and Turkey. Doing so would give them a maximum 16 match points which is still less than what China and Russia has. A potential 5-4 record is also not enough because the Chinese and the Russians already have six wins each with two matches left.

With their tournament essentially over, Thailand will continue to put up a great fight though their roster is heavily scarred. Continue to watch their games when you have the chance and do whatever you can to applaud their effort because they did not let setbacks win over them.

Team China – the uphill climb

The squad of Coach Lang Ping should have been in a more comfortable position if only they won against Italy. But that setback served as motivation to perform convincingly against Azerbaijan and Thailand in the second round. Yet the challenging part of their campaign is yet to start for they will go up against the United States and Russia in their succeeding games.

The best scenario is for China to win against both the Americans and the Russians in either three or four sets. That would give them an 8-1 record and 24 match points which propels them above both rivals. A China win over Russia and a loss to USA will ultimately eliminate the Russians in the competition for they will have an identical 7-2 record. On the flip side, a loss to Russia and a win over the United States will keep their third round hopes alive. However, they would need the USA to lose against Italy on the last day of round two to advance.

Team Japan – a Brazilian love/hate affair

Japan’s fate in the FIVB Women’s World Championship 2018 will heavily hinge on how Brazil will fare in their last two games. Before the Japan-Brazil showdown on October 11 that may have major implications, both teams will face Serbia and The Netherlands respectively. If both these European squads carry on with their dominating performances, Japan will have a 6-2 record while Brazil will sit on 5-3.

That leaves the Japanese with no other recourse than to defeat Brazil or lose to them in five sets. The single point that they will salvage from a five-set loss to their South American counterparts is enough to propel them to the Final Six. If Japan beats Serbia and Brazil, they will enter round three. A Brazil sweep over the Netherlands and Japan will eliminate the host team. However, a three or four-set Brazil victory over the Dutch and a five-set loss to the Japanese means that set quotient will determine the third qualifier from Pool E.