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Despite poor start, Kolkata Thunderbolts coach Rahman Mohammadrad optimistic of decent show in PVL 2024

Published at :February 22, 2024 at 10:30 PM
Modified at :February 25, 2024 at 1:22 PM
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(Courtesy : Rupay Prime Volleyball League)

Ankhi Dutta

Captain Ashwal Rai also spoke about the team’s preparation ahead of the season.

Prime Volleyball League season 1 champions, Kolkata Thunderbolts, are struggling to find their form in the ongoing edition of the tournament. The Kolkata based franchise have lost two of their opening three matches against the Ahmedabad Defenders and Bengaluru Torpedoes, both of whom are among the top contenders for the title this year. Their third straight loss came against Chennai Blitz on Thursday (Feb 22).

Kolkata Thunderbolts, who topped the league stages last season, finished as one of the two losing semifinalists in PVL 2023 along with Calicut Heroes. They were beaten by the Torpedoes who they faced in their opening match of Prime Volleyball League 2024 — a rematch of last year’s semi-final clash. Once again, the match ended in four sets with Bengaluru Torpedoes winning 3-1.

In their second match, the Thunderbolts faced defending champions Ahmedabad Defenders and were once again beaten. Kolkata, who beat the defenders to lift the PVL title in the inaugural season, went down in straight sets this time. Four days later, they also faced defeat to the Chennai Blitz despite taking the first set and then levelling in the fourth.

However, despite the poor start Thunderbolts coach Rahman Mohammadrad is optimistic. He expressed his satisfaction with the team’s preparation and attitude, despite the disappointing outcome in their first three matches.

“We had a very good camp. We organized and programmed very good training and it was really interesting for me to see that the players are very interested to learn, and they are doing their best. I am satisfied. They are a force, and they are fighting in the court,” said the Iranian.

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Kolkata Thunderbolts have been one of the consistent teams in the Prime Volleyball League and have made the playoffs in both the previous season, winning the title once. However, behind the scenes, the franchise has had to deal with the challenges of managing a diverse and talented squad of players, each with their own personality and style.

The coach expressed his approach to training and how he motivates the players. He said, “In the camps, we try to know the players and help them perform at their best. We also try to show them their mistakes and their weaknesses.

“I think this season all nine teams have good players and a good team. Everyone has a chance to win against each other, so we try our best to prepare a good plan for every match.” He also revealed that the team ‘watch every game back to know the reasons for a defeat or win and learn from every match.’

Thunderbolts captain Ashwal Rai also spoke highly of the coach and hoped that the team’s performance will increase going ahead into the tournament. Rai has been part of the franchise since the inception of the league and played a crucial role in both the previous two seasons.

“To play under such a good coach is an honour. The team is playing well, and we will work harder and commit more to produce better results,” said the skipper.

Another key player in the side is Vineet Kumar who like Ashwal has been with the franchise for three seasons now. Ashwal spoke about his bond with Vinit.

“We have known each other for three years,” said the skipper. “We knew each other from the Indian camps and different tournaments before. But now, we have learned more about ourselves, and other teammates and our bond have grown stronger after spending one month in the camp and also playing together.

Aside from Ashwal and Vinit, Kolkata Thunderbolts have also made some key foreign additions to the squad for PVL 2024 such as David Kisiel and Onur Cukur. Ashwal said although their playing style is different from the Indian players, the overseas duo has adjusted well to the league.

“Initially, it was very difficult to play with them. But we have been able to get along really well. We talk a lot while playing and understand each other.”

Both the coach and the skipper hope that Kolkata Thunderbolts will qualify for the PVL playoffs come March.

Watch the LIVE coverage of RuPay Prime Volleyball League Season 3, 6:30 PM onwards, only on Sony Sports Ten 1 SD & HD, Sony Sports Ten 3 SD & HD (Hindi), Sony Sports Ten 4 SD & HD (Tamil & Telugu).

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