‘The V-League has just ended, so I need to let the players rest. Are they going to compete again?’
The volleyball world tilted its head when Korean Air, which won the men’s professional volleyball V-League for three consecutive years, announced that it would participate in the 2023 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship. The dominant reaction was why the winning team had to go through hardships.
Korean Air has been participating in the tournament held in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, since the 14th. Originally, now is the time to take a break and treat injuries after finishing the intense V-League season.
However, Korean Air decided to participate in the competition at the end of the season. Director Tillikainen’s will was strong. Reactions from the players were mixed. There were also voices worrying that excessive overseas expeditions during the period of rest could lead to injuries and ruin the next season.
The reason coach Tillikainen insisted on participating in the tournament was to stimulate the players. He thought that Korean Air players who achieved the feat of winning three consecutive championships should not be complacent. It was to let them know that Korea is not everything. Director Tillikainen confessed, “I want to show that a higher level of volleyball is played in Asia without going far.”
Coach Tillikainen has experience in this tournament. In 2017, six years ago, he took charge of the Japanese professional volleyball league team, Toyota Gosei (current Wolfdogs Nagoya predecessor), and made it to the finals. In the final, they lost to Sarmaye Bank Tehran of Iran and stayed in the runner-up. Although he missed the championship, the experience at the time helped coach Tillikainen understand Asian volleyball.
Coach Tillikainen’s intention to show a higher level of volleyball was right. World-class players such as Dmitri Mushalsky (Russia) and Saeed Marouf (Iran) participated in this event. Many of the players were far above the level of the V-League in terms of physique, strength, and skills.
The Korean Air players who met them directly at the dorm and stadium were quite surprised. At the same time, I was sufficiently stimulated. In particular, it had a greater effect on young players who did not have a chance to compete in Korea. It was the picture that director Tillikainen wanted.
There is no prize money for this tournament. However, the participating teams make every effort to win the title of Asia’s strongest club. The sight of Asia’s leading volleyball teams working hard for the tournament was enough to stimulate the players’ desire to compete.
Bahraini team Al Ahli hired Yosbani Hernandez, who is scheduled to play for Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance in the V-League next season, as a “short-term part-time job” to win the tournament. He offered an allowance of 10,000 dollars (approximately 13 million won) while playing for the team for two weeks. If you win, you will receive an additional $10,000.토토사이트
It is not irrelevant to this atmosphere that local ace Jeong Ji-seok, who was likely to take a break due to the forced march of the V-League, started playing from the second game.
This is not the end of what director Tillikainen has prepared. He is ready for a new stimulus. The Finnish national team, coached by Tillikainen, is flying to Korea. The Finnish national team will set up a base camp in Korea for the 2024 Paris Olympic qualifiers to be held in Japan in late September or early October. Finland prepares for the Olympic qualifying game by holding a practice match against Korean Air.
The practice game against Finland, ranked 24th in the world, is a great opportunity for Korean Air players to experience the world level. Korea ranks 34th in the world, making it difficult for Korea to qualify for the Olympics where the top 24 countries will participate.
Korean Air advanced to the quarterfinals after 3 matches in the group stage with 2 wins and 1 loss. Coach Tillikainen said, “The goal is to create a field of experience for young players to grow in this competition,” and “I hope the players will have a goal to experience a higher stage.”