July 18, 2003 - The Brazilian national team is gearing up for its second challenge of the season. After the bronze medal in the Montreux Volley Masters in June, the team commanded by coach Marco Aurelio Motta traveled on Thursday to Italy to play in the FIVB Women's Grand Prix from July 21 to August 3.
Brazil will play in group B with China, Russia, Korea, Thailand and Canada. "Our first goal in this event will be to qualify for the final round," said coach Motta. "But we are in a difficult group and with three teams going to the final China, Russia and Korea will be our main opponents in the first round where the technical criteria will be decisive for success. We will play round robin and the best team will be the champion".
Brazil finished fourht in last year's edition of the World Grand Prix while more recently they finished a disappointing seventh at the 2002 World Championships in Germany. Motta said his aim now is to build his side into a team that will return Brazil back to it's glory days of the '90's when they won the title three times in 1994, '96 and '98.
"We will fight to win in all tournaments. Some teams are searching for new players like us, Italy and United States. But others like China and Russia are now very strong and will be favourites to win the title, because they have permanent teams".
According to offensive player Raquel, hosts Italy will be Brazil's toughest opponants. "We worked very hard after the Montreux Masters, especially on service and attack, which will be fundamental for the Grand Prix," she said. "It will be a very difficult competition".
In their last training session in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian team won 3-1 against the local club Automovel Clube/Campos.