Bangladesh's bid to regain the Bangabandhu Asian Senior Men's Central Zone International Volleyball Championship title came to an end as the hosts suffered a 1-3 set defeat to Turkmenistan in the final at Shaheed Suhrawardi Indoor Stadium yesterday.
Bangladesh won the first set against their superior opponents 26-24, raising hopes of an upset, but the boys in red and green could not withstand the skilful Turkmen in the next three sets, which they lost 20-25, 21-25 and 17-25 respectively despite the environment being in favour.
The stadium turned into a sea of spectators, giving an impression of just how much the people love volleyball, with the audience raucously backing the home team by beating drums, waving the national flag and roaring 'Bangladesh' whenever they snatched a point or even lagged behind.
However, that support from the gallery alone was not enough to help Bangladesh beat a technically-sound Turkmenistan who were simply better than the hosts in servicing, smashing and blocking. The hosts were unable to resist the powerful smashes from Turkmenistan, who also brilliantly found gaps n Bangladesh's half of the court to grab a few crucial points and separate the two sides.
On the other hand, Bangladesh looked below par when compared to their performances against Nepal, Maldives and Kyrgyzstan. The boys in red and green even appeared to be nervous during blocks, though it was supposed to be their forte.
The one exception was captain Horosit Biswas and it now seems that Bangladesh will need a couple more players of his ilk if they are to overcome other teams like the central Asia nations.
In the first set, Bangladesh trailed from the beginning but levelled the margin twice at 22-22 and 24-24 before captain Horosit brilliantly blocked twice to ensure a 1-0 difference. Afterwards though, Bangladesh could not fight back against the 2015 edition champions, who remained ahead throughout the second and third sets to take a 2-1 lead. Bangladesh did make a confident start to the fourth set and were even leading 11-10 at one stage but unfortunately, they ultimately suffered a 17-25 defeat.
Such a loss, against a superior side, was not totally unexpected for Bangladesh, who took part in an international tournament for the first time since their triumph in the second edition this championship two years ago. Since then, Bangladesh played only two international friendlies against Nepal and participated in one 21-day training camp in Iran as a part of their preparations for the tournament.
Horosit believes Bangladesh can beat Turkmenistan in the future but needs more international exposure.
“Turkmenistan are a very strong and experienced team. We also played good but our receiving and blocking were not good today. We played against them for the first time and it was not possible to win with less international experience,” Horosit said. “It is not wise to judge two teams by only one match. I think we have the ability but we need more international experience to fight against them. If we can get international exposure regularly, we can beat Turkmenistan.”
Fellow Bangladesh player, Masud Hossain, pointed out another aspect of the loss: “Honestly, they are physically more fit than us because they play international volleyball round the year while we took part in an international tournament after two years.”
Masud also urged the government as well as the federation to give them more international game time so that then hopefully they can produce better results for the nation.