The Bangabandhu Asian Senior Men's Central Zone International Volleyball Championship begins tomorrow at the Shaheed Suhrawardi Indoor Stadium with hosts Bangladesh aiming to regain the title, which they had clinched back in 2016.
Bangladesh did not participate in the edition following their win, held in Maldives in March 2017.
This time, six nations, split into two groups, will play in round-robin league matches and the top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals on Wednesday while the final is set for Friday.
The hosts, who are in Group A alongside Nepal and the Maldives, will start their campaign against Nepal on the opening day. Group B consists of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
To prepare for this championship, the national team underwent a three-week training session in Iran where they played six practice matches against different Iranian clubs, including an Iran Super League side, and won four. The team also spent nearly two more weeks preparing after their return on April 7.
And although Bangladesh's Iranian coach Alipour Aroji believes that the competition will be tough since all the participating teams have also prepared well, he remained optimistic about his side maintaining their current form.
“There are some strong teams like Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, who are from the region of the former Soviet Union, so they are much more powerful participants. We had a very good and fantastic preparation in Iran as we played some good practice matches there. We are working very hard and waiting for the start of the tournament,” said Aroji at an official press conference at a city hotel yesterday.
Volleyball was once a popular sport in rural areas across the country but Bangladesh got its first international title only in 2016, beating Maldives in the Bangabadhu Asian Senior Men's Central Zone International Volleyball Championship final.
”Last time around, we also worked hard because becoming champions is not an easy thing. This time we are also working hard and are looking forward to maintaining our performance and thus winning the title, though it will be tough for us because Maldives and Nepal also prepared in Thailand and Denmark respectively,” said the Iranian.
Echoing his coach's sentiments, the national team's new captain Horosit Biswas said that clinching the title was going to be tough but they were ready to defend it on home soil.
“After being appointed captain, my approach has changed and I am hopeful of winning the title after what we achieved in the 2016 edition,” said Horosit. “We had good preparation this time around compared to the one we had last time. We also have a good squad this time. Our target is to win the Championship and we will try our best to get the expected outcome.”
Horosit added that they adopted some new techniques from their tour of Iran and would try to implement those in the Championship.