Nepal crash out with Maldives defeatUzbekistan and Turkmenistan advance to the semi-finals from Group 'B'.
Nepal crashed out from the group stage of AVC Asian Senior Men's Central Zone Volleyball Championship with straight sets defeat against Maldives at the Army Physical Training and Sports Centre in Lagankhel on Wednesday.
Nepal, who lost to Kyrgyzstan on Monday, again fell 25-22, 25-21, 25-14 to the South Asian rivals in the three-team Group ‘A’. Nepal had lost against Kyrgyzstan 25-8-23, 25-22, 25-22. The match was virtual a quarter-final clash as both teams needed victory to seal a place in the semi-finals having lost their first games. It was the third time that Nepal had lost to Maldives having also won three other times in the same tournament. Nepal had won the last two matches against the opponents.
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, meanwhile, made it to the semi-final from Group 'B'. Uzbekistan topped the group with 100 percent winning record after defeating Afghanistan in straight sets on Wednesday. They recorded a 25-23, 29-27, 29-27 win over Afghanistan, who finished third. Uzbekistan had registered straight sets win over all three opponents including Turkmenistan and Bangladesh to wrap up the group stage with nine points.
Turkmenistan inflicted four-set defeat on Bangladesh, who finished the group stage without single win. Turkmenistan saw off Bangladesh 25-22, 25-16, 27-29, 25-16 to finish league stage with six points. Afghanistan ended up with two points and Bangladesh one point.
Nepal put in some fight in the first two sets but completely lost their footing in the third. In the words of Nepal's Dutch coach Han Abbing his team was not in the court in the third set. "We played two matches today," he said. "We played good volleyball in the first and second set and we were leading 8-4 at a point in the second set. Then we lose three points with unforced errors while attempting spikes."
"The third set was a complete different game. Their heads were somewhere else and they lost their focus. There was a lack of mental stability in our players today. They had to focus two hours but were in the game only for one hour," said the Dutch who has been looking after the team for the last three months.
Nepal's Rajendra Bista and Dhana Bahadur Bhatta were the highest point-earners with seven each. Having opened the scoring in the opening set, Nepal never went ahead. They were level at 11-11 at one point. Thereafter Maldives collected three consecutive points to take control of the set.
Nepal showed signs of improvement in the early period of the second set and were 9-5 ahead. But they committed three unforced errors as Maldives caught up the hosts at 9-9. From 12 each, Maldives scored three consecutive points to break free and eventually secured the second set 25-21. Nepal not only looked hopeless from the beginning of third set but also earned a red card, which meant their opponent earned one point extra point. They lost the match after conceding the third set 25-14.Nepal skipper Em Bahadur Magar said that it wasnot their day. "We tried to give it all having prepared for the tournamentfor just months," he said adding that starting with young andinexperienced players might have affected their performance.