Upbeat Thais eye Paris 2024 berth

Upbeat Thais eye Paris 2024 berth

Asian champs head to Poland for qualifiers

Thailand players pose after winning a match at the Asian Women's Volleyball Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima last week.
Thailand players pose after winning a match at the Asian Women's Volleyball Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima last week.

Asian women's champions Thailand are ready to chase a historic Olympic berth, players and officials said on Tuesday.

The team, led by coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul, left on Tuesday for Poland where they will play in an Olympic qualifying tournament starting this weekend.

The Thais, who are seeking their first ever Olympic berth, are in Pool C of the Sept 16-24 qualifying round for Paris 2024.

They face hosts Poland, defending Olympic champions the USA, 2022 Nations League winners Italy, Germany, Colombia, South Korea and Slovenia.

The top two teams in each of the three pools earn tickets to Paris.

The Thais begin their campaign against Germany on Saturday.

With France automatically receiving an Olympic spot as the host country, the remaining five slots for the 12-team Paris 2024 tournament will be determined by the world rankings next year.

World No.14 Thailand are brimming with confidence after winning their third Asian title in Nakhon Ratchasima last week.

They stunned China 3-2 in the final after upsetting Japan by the same scoreline in the semi-finals.

"This [the Olympics] is the only major tournament we have never played in," Somporn Chaybangyang, president of the Thailand Volleyball Association (TVA), said on Tuesday.

"There are four or five teams who are ranked higher than us [in the Poland tournament]. But I believe our determination and moral support from several parties will give us the power to reach our target."

Ajcharaporn Kongyot, one of Thailand's key players, said: "We have to go for it now. We can't wait for the next tournament.

"We always feel under pressure during an Olympic qualifying tournament. This time, we will play without pressure and have fun."

Veteran setter Nootsara Tomkom, 38, is included in the initial list of 15 players for the Poland event.

Danai said it is good to have Nootsara, regarded as one of the best setters in international volleyball, thanks to her skill and experience.

However, each team can only have 14 players and Nootsara may be axed although she will be with the team in Poland, Danai said.

Meanwhile, the team paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin at Parliament on Monday.

Srettha, a devout sports fan, said he had followed the team and given them moral support particularly during the Asian Women's Volleyball Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima.

"I hope you qualify for the 2024 Olympics," the prime minister said.

Do you like the content of this article?