It will be difficult to look beyond Kazakhstan and Australia when the three-day Asia-Pacific under-21 beach volleyball (men & women) championship begins here on Friday.

Mohammed Ghouse, the Indian men’s team coach, was of the view that players from Kazakhstan and Australia will have the height advantage. “Their general game looks ok. But, the height factor is a major disadvantage for us,” he said. “Australia is the favourite, but Kazakhstan is equally good.”

The Kazakhstan’s ‘A’ team (men) consists of Vladislav Pustynnikov and Sergey Bogatu. The pair has been playing together for the last five years and won a silver medal in the youth (u-19) Olympics in Singapore in 2010.

In fact, Bogatu represented the country in the World Tour in China this year. The Kazakshtan women’s team consists of Bakhtygul Samalikova and Lyubov Bogatu.

Australia has a first-time men’s pair in Tom Hodges and Malachi Murch. “This is our first visit to India. If we focus, we can do well,” the duo said.

Tough for India

With such a strong field, India, certainly, would find the going tough, but Ghouse insisted that its top two pairs of Rajkumar and Yogaraj and V. Shankar and Maheshkumar would “do well”.

Indian Beach Volleyball Council Chairman A.J. Martin Sudhakar said the idea to host the Asia Pacific event crystallised when he attended the Asian Beach Volleyball Confederation meeting (AVBC) in Indonesia last year.

The groupings:

Men: ‘A’: Kazakhstan-1, Iran-2, Indonesia; ‘B’: India-1, Turkmenistan-1, Oman-1, Australia; ‘C’: Japan-1, Iran-1, Turkmenistan-2, India-2; ‘D’: India-3, Japan-2, Kazakshtan-2, Oman-2.

Women: ‘A’: Australia, Japan-2, India-1, India-3; ‘B’: Kazakhstan, Japan-1, India-4, India-2, Indonesia.

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