(Asiad) S. Korean volleyball coach vows to display do-or-die tactics en route to final

Im Do-hun, head coach of the South Korean men's national volleyball team, said Thursday that he will stage do-or-die fights at the upcoming matches for the Hangzhou Asian Games to win the sport's first Asiad gold medal in 17 years.

"All of our players have the same goal to win gold at the tournament and we are working towards the same goal," he told reporters after the final Pool C match against Cambodia at Linping Sports Centre Gymnasium for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, which kicks off Saturday.

"We will burn our bridges behind us to win every upcoming match on our way to the gold medal."

The 27th-ranked South Korea routed Cambodia 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-15) after a stunning upset by India in its first preliminary group stage match the previous day.

With one win and one loss, South Korea finished second in Pool C after India and advanced to the 12-team knockout stage to face Pakistan, who topped Pool D after two straight wins, on Friday for a quarterfinal berth Sunday. If everything goes well, South Korea will play semis on Monday and the final on Tuesday.

The coach said he will focus on strong serves in the next game with Pakistan, which places 51st in world rankings.

"Pakistan players have good height," he said. "I think we need to shake up their offense with strong serves, forcing them to depend more on side attacks. Then, we can exhibit our defense."

South Korea's male volleyball has never failed to make the podium at the quadrennial continental competition since 1966. But its last Asiad gold was from the 2006 tournament held in Doha, Qatar.

Im, a legendary outside hitter in South Korea, has vowed to regain the gold medal at this year's Asian Games in China, which was postponed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has said he wants to use the Asian Games as a turning point for South Korean men's volleyball, which has been suffering from worse-than-expected performances in recent international competitions.

At this year's Asian Volleyball Challenger Cup in July, South Korea was upset by 73rd-ranked Bahrain in the semifinals en route to a third place finish, despite the absence of China and Japan. At the 2023 Asian Volleyball Championship last month, South Korea fell to China in the semifinals and ended up in fifth place.

At the Asian Games, South Korea remained fourth-strongest team in the continent behind Japan (No. 5), Iran (No. 11) and Qatar (No. 17). The host country China checks in at No. 29 but is regarded as a better team than South Korea at the moment.

If it wins the second round against Pakistan, South Korea is expected to compete with Qatar and Iran en route to the final.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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