SPORT

More was expected from the Indians

Tehran Aug. 26 . India's performance in the 12th World junior men's volleyball championship so far has not been up to expectations. It is not that the Indians came here with the hope of reaching the final. But as this event is taking place immediately after the World Youth championship where India played brilliantly to reach the final and lost to Brazil, the expectations from the junior side too was high.

Here the Indian team, Asia's No.2, managed just a lone win in the group. And that too against an Asian side, China (late on Monday; India won 25-17, 25-22, 25-22), which it beat in the last continental championship also. Why is that the Asian teams find it difficult to cope with the pressure in World events? As far as volleyball is concerned it is on account of the old mindset from which coaches are finding it difficult to break free.

The Indian players feel that achieving the No. 1 or 2 position in Asia is itself a big thing even after beating former Asians leaders like Korea, Japan and China on a regular basis. Even Iran is not unbeatable, as we have proved, though not at the senior level.

So the Indians are not mentally prepared for a World championship per se. Even if the coach prompts them to play their natural game they become rigid on the court. There are only two ways to solve this problem.

First, by giving them more exposure against European teams. But there is a hitch here. So far the Indian requests have been turned down by the Europeans. But things are looking up and the near future will see Indians making more trips to Europe, according to a SAI official here.

Also this time around, there are no individual performances to shore up the game. India, however, is confident after its win over China. Its play-off match against Poland on Wednesday will be tough. If India wins it will make the quarterfinals.

South Korea, Iran, Egypt and Venezuela finished in that order in Pool `A'. In Pool `B' it is Russia, Germany, India and China; Brazil, Poland, Canada and Tunisia in Pool `C', and Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Italy in Pool `D'.

Venezuela, China, Tunisia and Italy, the European champion, are out of the race.

Play-off line-up: Russia vs. Brazil and Korea vs. Serbia; Elimination group line-up: Iran vs. Slovakia, Bulgaria vs. Egypt, India vs. Poland and Germany vs. Canada.

Late last night Serbia (Yugoslavia) fought a grim five set battle against Slovakia to top Pool `D' with a 25-16, 23-25, 25-17, 25-27, 15-10 victory; Russia thrashed Germany 25-19, 25-16, 25-22 to top Pool `B'.

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