Professional volleyball men’s Korean Air is currently sweating in the Asian Club Championship. The strong will of head coach Tommy Tillikainen (Finland) was reflected.
Korean Air has been participating in the 2023 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship held in Manama, Bahrain from the 14th. With 2 wins and 1 loss in the group stage, they advanced to the quarterfinals in second place in the group.
The team did not just welcome participation in the competition from the beginning. It is not enough time to take a sweet rest after lifting the overall championship trophy. In this situation, there were also voices of concern that if you go abroad forcibly, you may get injured and ruin the 23-24 season.
“Korean men’s volleyball should not stay in a frog in a well.” Nonetheless, coach Tillikainen, who insisted on participating in the tournament, packed up.
He has experience in the Asian Club Championship. In 2017, after leading the Japanese professional volleyball team Toyota Gosei (the predecessor of the current Wolfdogs Nagoya), he made his debut through this tournament. The team made it to the finals, but eventually lost to Sarmayeh Bank Tehran (Iran) and stayed in the runner-up. Director Tilly Kainen raised his understanding of the Asian stage through his experience at that time.
Head coach Tillikainen, who once again challenged for the Asian Club Championship after six years, aimed to motivate his players. 3 consecutive championships, obviously a great achievement, but it becomes meaningless if you leave the domestic league. Coach Tillikainen said, “I wanted to show the players and teams that go beyond the Korean stage and play volleyball at a higher level.”
World-class players such as Dmitri Mushalsky (Russia) and Saeed Marouf (Iran) stimulated Korean Air players as expected. In addition, Al-Ahli, the host country’s Bahrain team, offered Yosbani Hernandez (Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance), who is active as a mercenary on a short-term contract, $10,000 (approximately KRW 13 million) for two weeks. If you win, you get an additional $10,000 as a bonus.
On the other hand, Korean Air has no special compensation. This can be a blind spot. However, the club and manager Tillikainen felt that participation alone was worthwhile.
Korean Air is not the first Korean team to participate in this tournament. Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance, which had already built a dynasty first in 2000-2001, won the championship. In particular, in 2001, Shin Jin-sik was selected as the best player by winning the unsilenced set.
Korean Air, which has set a goal of winning four consecutive championships, must prove its qualifications to build a new dynasty through this tournament.
Also, ahead of this season,스포츠토토 coach Tillikainen is preparing another new stimulus. The national volleyball team is coming to Korea from Finland, the coach’s home country. The Finnish national team will set up a base camp in Korea for the 2024 Paris Olympics qualifiers to be held in Japan from late September to early October. A practice game against Korean Air is scheduled.
Currently, Korean men’s volleyball is ranked 34th in the world. Therefore, they cannot participate in the Olympic qualifiers where the top 24 countries participate. In this situation, director Tillikainen is drawing a sketch that the clash with Finland will be another shockwave.