Korean Air Player Han and Marouf, will the Asian Club Championship face-off be successful?

Men’s professional volleyball Korean Air is having a busy offseason. Following the selection of Asian quarter players held in Jeju Island from the 25th to the 27th of last month (April), the 2023 V-League foreign player tryout and draft were completed in Istanbul, Turkey.

Coaching staff and the secretariat, including Korean Air coach Tommy Tilikhainen, did not come to Korea. I left for Bahrain on the 11th.

It is to participate in the ‘2023 Asian Club Championship’ hosted by the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC). Korean Air is the first time a V-League team has participated in the competition. In the case of the men’s division, in 2000 and 2001 before the professional launch, Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance participated in the 2nd and 3rd competitions and won the championship.

In the women’s division, GS Caltex (then LG Oil) participated in the first tournament in 1999 and became the first champion. For Korean Air, foreign player Lincoln (Australia) will not play in this tournament, but most of the players including captain Han, Ji-seok Jeong, Dong-hyuk Lim, and Kwang-woo Yoo will participate.

Korean Air was in Group A along with Al Ali (Bahrain), Canberra Heat (Australia) and Jakarta Freshish (Indonesia). In the midst of this, there is one point to watch for this tournament.

It is a confrontation between player Han and Saeed Maruf (Iran) as a setter. The two players are the same age, born in 1985. Marouf is evaluated as a renowned setter not only in Asia but also internationally. Han has also established himself as the best setter in the V-League, but it is true that his recognition on the international stage, including the national team, is inferior to that of Marouf.

Marouf has blocked the path of Korea and Han players several times in international competitions. The most recent was the world qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was held right before the declaration of a new coronavirus infection (Corona 19) pandemic (global epidemic).

The men’s volleyball team, led by coach Lim Do-heon, could have won the last game against Iran. I took a chance, but the atmosphere turned around as a result because of one play by Marouf. At the end of the 5th set, Marouf sat down on the court complaining of back pain.

Korea brought the atmosphere of the 5th set at the time, but Marouf cut off the flow. In the end, after a full set match, Korea lost to Iran and was unable to obtain the right to participate in the Tokyo Olympics. Even coach Lim said whenever he looked back on the match against Iran at the time, “I was very disappointed with the situation in the 5th set.”안전놀이터

Marouf also participates in this competition. He signed a short-term contract with Shadab Yazd (Iran). Marouf played for Fenerbahçe in the Turkiye League in the 2022-23 season.

Shadab Yazd is included in Group B along with South Gas (Iraq), Taichung Bank (Taiwan), and Kam Air (Afghanistan). In the group stage, a player and Marouf do not meet.

Korean Air and Shadab Azd must go through the second group stage and advance to the final round, so there is a high possibility of a face-to-face match. Meanwhile, in Group C, Suntory (Japan), Diamond Foods (Thailand), Bayancor VC (Mongolia), Kaipil (Yemen), Group D, Aturau (Kazakhstan), Police SC (Qatar), Aspring (Hong Kong), Kuwait SC (Kuwait), respectively. Belong to the group stage.

One of the features of this tournament is the tight competition schedule. Participating teams, including Korean Air, will play 8 games over 8 days.

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