All eight teams competing in the WBSC Softball Asia/Oceania Qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have one common dream – to be the top team and earn the ticket.
Forget their rankings, all seven teams and host China, have left no stones unturned to book that final ticket to Japan in the five-day tournament which begins tomorrow at the Shanghai Chongming Sports Training Center.
At the Press Conference this afternoon to introduce the team coaches and captains of the respective teams, everyone expressed their hope to finish top.
The eight participating teams have been drawn into two groups:
In Group A are World No. 8 China, No. 11 New Zealand, No. 13 Philippines and No. 23 Korea.
Group B has top-ranked team, No. 6 Chinese Taipei, No. 7 Australia, No. 37 Indonesia and No. 43 Hong Kong, China.
The tournament will see three days of round robin. The top two teams in each group will advance to the Super Round (28-29 September). The top squad in the final standings will gain the last available spot.
Without doubt China as host will start as favourites, but Chinese Taipei who is highest ranked, Australia and Philippines are expected to be strong contenders.
But all teams here have come well prepared with overseas trainings, competition, hiring specialist coaches and above all beaming with confidence.
China’s American coach, Corey Myers, said he was hardly feeling any pressure.
“Besides having had a great preparation playing all over the world against tops teams including playing in the League in the States, I am confident we will book the last ticket to the Olympics,” said Myers.
“And I don’t feel any pressure because I don’t understand what they say here and my interpreter only tells me the good things,” said Myers laughing.
“But really, our team has worked very hard, just as all the teams have, but I believe our team has what it takes to finish tops.”
Australia had an eight-day stopover in Japan where they played ten games.
“We have had a long preparations including playing in US and I like our chances to win the last ticket,” said Laing Harrow who was in Jakarta in May to witness the teams who qualified for the qualifier here from the Asia Cup.
“Our opening match against Chinese Taipei tomorrow is going to be crucial, but we are all prepared for the challenge.”
Philippines prepared their team playing against all-men team in Philippines besides playing in the US.
“Softball is back in Olympics and we want to be there for the first time. We have come here fully prepared and I believe playing against men teams has made the team well prepared for the challenge here,” said Philippines coach Venerando Dizer.
Korea have been in training at their national training centre since March, New Zealand have also played matches in Japan and come with full confidence, while even lower ranked teams like Hong Kong China and Indonesia, were all beaming with confidence to earn the one ticket.
But come Thursday, four teams will have their hopes dashed and come Saturday, only one team will be left standing rejoicing.
“This is the last of three softball qualification events for Tokyo 2020. In six days we’ll know the name of the sixth and last team to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and join Japan as hosts, USA, Italy, Mexico and Canada in the biggest sport’s event in the world,” Low Beng Choo, secretary-general World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) at the Press Conference.
She also thanked Dr Yang Xu, President Chinese Softball Association and deputy Local Organising Chairman and Wang Haiwei from the Shanghai Sports
“On behalf of the organising committee and Chinese Softball Association, I extend our warm welcome to the players, coaches and officials. I also wish to express my heartfelt thanks to Shanghai Administration of Sports and People’s Government of Chongming District also my gratitude to the staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to support the tournament,” said Dr Yang in his address.
It’s game time and let the game begin.