By The Nation
Thailand, the only unbeaten team en route to the semi-finals on Saturday, had a daunting task against Turkey, the team they had never beaten in any tournament. Italy and Brazil are the other two invincible teams for Thailand.
Fielding a strong line-up led by superstar spiker Pleumjit Thinkaow and hard-attacking Ajcharaporn Kongyot, Thailand are also strengthened by veteran Malika Kanthong, Thatdao Nuekjang, setter Pornpun Guedpard and libero Yupa Sanitklang.
Thailand took the tough first set 25-22 but Turkey hit back to clinch the second set 25-21. The Thai team held a 2-1 advantage after winning the third set 25-18, but their delights did not last long when Turkey made amends to wrap up the comfortable fourth set 25-16 for a 2-2 draw.
Turkey, the last year’s European Games winners, started consistently in the decider to commandingly lead by wide margin 6-1. However, cheered on by Geneva- and Zurich-based Thai fans, the Thai spikers found their touch to attack devastatingly and catch up with the rivals at 9-9. Turkey went on their aggressive attacks to lead 14-11, badly needing only one more point to wrap up the set and match. However, they just let the win slip through their fingers. Thailand came back much stronger to win three straight points to catch the opponents at 14-14. The Thais regained their composure to win the hotly-contested set 19-17, the match and a final berth.
Thailand will go up against World Cup and world No.2 China in the Sunday’s showdown. The current Asian champions on Saturday captured a fantastic comeback 20-25 25-23 23-25 25-20 15-9 victory over the Netherlands.
The third-place playoff between the Netherlands and Turkey will start at 6.30pm Bkk time, followed by the final showdown between Thailand and China from 9pm.
Saturday’s semi-final results
Thailand b Turkey 3-2 (25-22 21-25 25-18 16-25 19-17)
China b The Netherlands 3-2 (20-25 25-23 23-25 25-20 15-9)
6.30pm: Turkey v The Netherlands
9pm: Thailand v China