November 29, 2003, Tokyo, Japan - Brazil, Italy and Serbia and Montenegro all confirmed their tickets to the 2004 Athens Olympics on Saturday as the top three of the 2003 World Cup in Japan was determined with one day remaining.
With Brazil beating USA, Italy defeating Japan and Serbia and Montenegro claiming one set before losing to France, the World, European and Olympic champions can not be displaced from the top three. Only the final order remains to be decided.
Following Brazil's 25-20, 25-21, 25-23 defeat of USA in Yoyogi Stadium, the South American champions and Italy confirmed their Olympic qualification as both teams were assured of a top three finish.
"I was anxious about it but each of the players did what they had to do, that was good," coach Bernardo Rezende said after the match. "Now, we are happy to qualify for the Athens Olympic Games but we should not be satisfied. Each player has his own points of improvement so we have to improve more for the Olympics. If we stop improving, other countries will over take us."
Serbia and Montenegro, needing only one set to guarantee a top three finish, did it tough but finally claimed their Olympic ticket in a 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 21-25, 25-19) loss to France. "We knew it would be difficult to play when you only needed to win one set," Serbia and Montenegro coach Ljubomir Travica said. "Players played to win just one set, not the game."
Meanwhile, Italy, knowing they had already qualified for the Olympics, had to beat Japan to keep the pressure on Brazil for the World Cup title and finally sealed a four-set victory 25-21, 27-25, 25-27, 25-20 in front of a packed Yoyogi Stadium. Now Italy needs to beat Serbia and Montenegro convincingly on Sunday and have Brazil lose to Japan to claim their second World Cup title.
In the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym, Canada stole vital ground on Venezuela in the standings when they won their clash 25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21 before Tunisia won a North African showdown beating Egypt 25-20, 25-19, 23-25, 25-16. Korea beat China 25-19, 25-21, 26-24 in the last match of the day.
The final day of the 2003 Men's World Cup on Sunday sees USA play France in the Yoyogi Stadium followed by Serbia and Montenegro taking on Italy and Japan playing Brazil.
In the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym, Venezuela plays Egypt before Tunisia takes on China and Korea plays Canada.
Current standings: Brazil 10 wins 0 losses, Italy 9-1, Serbia & Montenegro 8-2, France 7-3, USA 7-3, Korea 5-5, Canada 4-6, Japan 3-7, Venezuela 3-7, Tunisia 2-8, China 1-9, Egypt 1-9.