The biennial competition takes place at the Vinh Phuc Competition Hall in Vinh Phuc, around 20km from Hanoi, Vietnam between September 1 and 7, with eight teams vying for the top honour.
According to rules and regulations of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC), those eligible teams must finish top eight from the last year’s Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Tehran, Iran.
However, Pakistan, which finished seventh in the Asian meet, have withdrawn from the Asian Cup just two weeks ahead of the competition day, while Kazakhstan and Thailand, ninth and 10th at the Asian meet, are now taking part in the President Cup meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The organizers decided to give the fast-improving Myanmar the green light to test their mettle for the first time in history in the Asian Cup despite the fact that they did not take part in the last year’s Asian meet.
Pool A comprises Myanmar, South Korea, third at the Asian meet, Japan and hosts Vietnam, while current Asian winners and consecutive two-time AVC Cup champions Iran, India, Australia and China are in Pool B.
The pool round-robin preliminaries start on Saturday, with FIVB world No.14 Iran, whose best team now apparently competing in the World League qualification in Cairo, Egypt, challenging old foes China, the team they had beaten twice in the final showdown of the 2010 Asian Cup and the 2011 Asian meet, both in their home soil.
However, since Iran might be not at their best this time, their hopes of scoring a hat-trick of victory in the Asian Cup cannot be that high. China are ready to go for their best, fielding several strong players who have been playing for long times. Among them is captain Cui Jianjun, who won the Best Server award at the 2008 edition and the Best Spiker award in the later episode in Iran.
The other matches consist of FIVB world No.11 Australia taking on India, strong with the like of Sannjay Kumar, who won the Best Scorer award in the previous Asian Cup in 2010. Myanmar face hosts Vietnam in their very first meet of the Asian Cup since both sides have never qualified for the top-flight tournament. In the last match of the day, South Korea have a daunting task against Japan, defending Asian Games champions and 2009 Asian winners.
Japan try to make a successful comeback attempt this time after they came up with poor performances to finish a disappointing eighth at the previous edition in Urmia, Iran.
After the conclusion of the preliminaries August 3, Tuesday is the rest day. The competition resumes with the play-off round on August 5. The top teams of each pool take on the fourth-placed sides and the second place play the third place of the cross pools. The four winners then advance to the semi-finals, while the losers will be relegated for the 5th-8th classification round.
The general technical meeting took place on Friday, with Shanrit Wongprasert, the FIVB Board of Administration Member and Sports Events Council Member, and Tran Duc Phan, secretary-general of Vietnam Volleyball Association, jointly chairing.
Competition schedule (local time)
2pm: Iran v China
4pm: India v Australia
7pm: Opening Ceremony
7.30pm: Myanmar v Vietnam
9pm: South Korea v Japan
2pm: Iran v India
4pm: China v Australia
6pm: Myanmar v South Korea
8pm: Vietnam v Japan
2pm: India v China
4pm: Australia v Iran
6pm: Korea v Vietnam
8pm: Japan v Myanmar