August 23, 2003 - The 12th Men's U21 World Championship is set to start on Saturday in the Iranian capital of Iran. Here is what the coaches say ahead of the nine-day tournament:
Brazil, Antonio Lerbach: "I think it will be a strong competition. Many teams have improved a lot in the last few months and it is very difficult to determine a favorite for the title; however I put Russia, Italy, India and my team as main contenders. We can not forget some of the emerging teams. We have a good team and we hope to play well like we did before in the big competitions."
Iran, Karkhaneh Mostafa: "I expect this competition to be the best in history of this age category. It is very hard for my team to win between of the excellent opposition, but we will do our best in front of our spectators. Our team now is well prepared and we have the potential to win the gold medal. I put Brazil, Russia, Poland and my team as favorites, with the Egyptian team, who caused a surprise in the last Boys' Under 19 World Championship in Cairo two years ago, to also be there. We won't depend on stars, we depend on the team work."
Italy, Roberto Santilli: "Unfortunately we will miss three of our best players; Broski, Guimart, and Gurise, but we will try to play good matches. Brazil and Iran are the favorites for the title."
Canada, Larry McKay: "We hope to compete with the strong teams. Our first match against Tunisia will be a great result for us if we win. Brazil, Iran and Russia are the favorites."
Tunisia, Tarabolsi Mohamed: "We came to defend our country name in the Volleyball field. I don't see big and small teams, but only more experienced teams like Brazil and Russia. Bulgaria, Poland and Germany may cause some surprises. Our goal is to reach the quarterfinals."
Serbia-Montenegro, Zarkovic Milan: "We are here to represent our country in the best form and I'm glad to be here between the best teams in the world. I'm against all who said that our Pool is weak, but it is the strongest. We will try to satisfy our supporters."
Bulgaria, Gavrilov Brunka: "We are happy to be in the strongest junior championship. I'll be happy if we proceed to the second round, but I hope for more. Russia and Iran are the best."
Egypt, Sherif Elshemerly: "I'm happy to lead my national team in the junior championship after a 12-year absence, as the last time was in 1991. This generation is one of the strongest in Egyptian Volleyball especially after they finished fourth in the Boys' Under 19 World Championship two years ago. We hope to be in the last eight. I expect Brazil, Russia and Iran to compete for the trophy."
Korea, Park Yong-Kyu: "Our group is very strong as we will face the hosts, the emerging Egyptian team and Venezuela. I believe Russia are most likely to win the gold."
Venezuela, Miguel Cambero: "I'm very anxious to be here amongst these strong teams. Our pool is strong but we hope to achieve positive results in the first round."
Germany, Michael Warm: "We are glad to be in this competition after 10 years absence. We hope to qualify for the quarterfinals and this will be a good achievement. Brazil, Russia and Iran are the best here."
India, Mohamed Kumara: "It is an honor to be here after not playing in this competition for 10 years. Our team is here not to win the title but to gain more experience and learn from the great teams like Brazil, Iran and Russia."
China, Yang Liqun: "My group is very tough as it not easy to face Russia, India and Germany, but we will do our best to play good Volleyball."