November 7, 2003 - Philippe Blain, the head coach of the French men's team, says expect to see a different French side at the 2003 World Cup to the one, which stuttered to a 10th place finish at the World League earlier in the year.
With just over a week before the Men's World Cup begins in Tokyo, Japan on November 16, Blain says his side is determined to achieve their sole objective at the tournament and that is to finish in the top three places and qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece.
"(As a team) This is our first participation in the World Cup but it is equally the first tournament that offers the chance to qualify for the Olympic Games through the three podium places;" he told the French Volleyball Federation's website. "Our objective is to qualify for the Olympic Games, which if obtained will release some of the pressure of trying to qualify in the New Year.
"We leave for the World Cup heading into the unknown and the tight format means one has to use their full squad but all the teams are equal and we think we stand a good chance of gaining that qualification place. The World League was different but now we are focused only on finishing in the top three at the World Cup."
Blain named his 12-man squad earlier in the week and included many of the big names who saw France through to the bronze medal at the 2002 World Championship in Argentina.
Libero Hubert Henno, captain Dominique Daquin and star attackers in Stéphane Antiga and Oliver Kieffer will be joined by the experienced Franz Granvorka and Laurent Capet. Missing are the retired Luc Marquet and the ultra consistent Vincent Montmeat.
A repeat performance would be just what the doctor ordered for the Tricolors when they start their World Cup campaign with a match against Venezuela in Naganobut it won't be easy with the likes of Brazil, Italy, Serbia and Montenegro, China and hosts Japan all gunning for the same prize.