World No.12 Thailand are in Pool B with South Korea, Germany and Serbia in the first preliminary round.
Thailand coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai, who has been with the team since 2001, said that his players’ skills and mental strength had improved.
But he admitted South Korea were a bit better with taller players and home-court advantage.
“Their players are quite tall and their outside hitter [King Yeon-Koung] is among the best in the world,’’ said Kiattipong.
“But their ball receiving is still poor at times so we can attack them.
“It is good to face the hosts in the first match because if we win, it will boost our team for the whole week. The hosts will also be under pressure in the opening match.’’
Thailand last met South Korea at a qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics when the Koreans won 3-0 to advance to the London Games.
“It has been a long time since we last met them and they have since had several new players,’’ said Thailand captain Wilawan Apinyapong, who is nursing a back injury.
According to Shanrit Wongprasert, a director at the Volleyball Association of Thailand, it will be another tough task for Thailand, whose best finish was fourth in 2012.
“Most of our key players have been the same for a long time with a few newcomers,’’ he said.
“Among the 12 teams, our team is ranked lowest. It will be a great achievement if we finish in the top 10.’’
In three previous Grand Prix meetings, South Korean won twice in 2003 and 2006 while Thailand won once in 2004.
Today’s (August 1) match will be shown live on Channel 7 and True Sport 7 from 2pm.
Thailand will next face Serbia tomorrow (August 2) and Germany on Sunday (August 3).
In the second preliminary round next week, Thailand will face China, Italy and Japan, and then host the US, Dominican Republic and Brazil in the final preliminary round in Bangkok from Aug 15-17.
After three rounds, the top four teams qualify for the finals in Japan from Aug 20-24. AFP