November 26, 2003, Tokyo, Japan - The final round of the 2003 Men's World Cup in Japan starts on Friday in Tokyo with Italy, USA, Brazil, France and Serbia and Montenegro all still in contention for a top three finish and a ticket to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. A press conference was held on Wednesday and here is what the coaches, plus Japanese coach Mikiyasu Tanaka had to say.
Italy head coach Gianpaolo Montali
"Beside the transportation that we had today the team have stayed in good condition, for the future I must repeat again, we are here to play day by day, match by match and after the last match we will see the classification and if Italy have played a good World Cup."
USA head coach Doug Beal
"We are very happy to be back in Tokyo, this is the most exciting part of the competition, the fight for the spots to the 2004 Athens Games. We know that the matches are going to be very hard and very competitive. Our team is looking forward to participate and try and qualify here. The condition of the team is good and we have some young players who are excited about playing in the fourth round here in Tokyo.
"I think all the games are about the same in terms of importance in this final round. We have to play to win all of the matches, it's impossible to predict the results.
"The only match we are focused on is the game against Italy and in that sense it is the most important for us."
Brazil head coach Bernardo Rezende
"Our team condition is good, and all the players are available. The top five teams are all at the beginning again, even if we and Serbia and Montenegro are slightly ahead. All will be decided in the three days here in Tokyo. We need to be consistent because we have a tough schedule, with Serbia and Montenegro first, followed by the USA and then Japan. "The key for us will be to move as quickly as we can on to the next play and stay consistent.
About Serbia and Montenegro game: "I just hope it is not so hard and tough because it would be hard to play USA the next day. We are just thinking of Serbia and Montenegro at the moment and not the other teams. It is one game at a time."
Serbia and Montenegro head coach Ljubomir Travica
"We are very satisfied so far because we have won all eight of our games, as we expected. We also know the last three games will be very hard for us. But we are playing better and better each match and we expect to qualify for the Athens Olympics. All the team are in good condition."
France head coach Philippe Blain
"After Okayama, where we had three positive results, our team is now feeling more confident. We know that to have a chance to qualify for the Olympics we have to win our three games here in Tokyo. But the team is feeling better and will try to continue our positive results."
Japan head coach Mikiyasu Tanaka
"Takahiro Yamamoto sprained his ankle so at the moment he is not in the best condition. He has a condition in order to control the pain and it is a very annoying situation I could say. Yes, we lost the hope of qualifying and we have plenty of injured players, however we have great support from the crowd and at the early stage with this support we were very encouraged. But now we have to regain our confidence. Against any team we will perform to our best ability against the three teams and we will definitely challenge them."