December 14, 2003 - Jorge Garbey, the Dominican coach, says Cuba is the team to beat in the NORCECA Women’s Olympic Qualifier and he thinks his squad has the tools to fulfill the task.
“Cuba is the favorite in this tournament and we would have to play a great game to beat them,” said Garbey of Cuban nacionality. “But we have done it before and we can do it again. The team has been training hard and is in good shape.”
It won´t be easy for the Dominicans, who have two players out of the roster for different reasons: Nurys Arias, an opposite attacker was suspended during the World Cup after failing a banned substance test, and Sofia Heredia has a hand injury.
“We have made the adjustments to replace those players and the team is looking good,” said Garbey. “Kenia Moreta, who played great in the World Cup when the chance came, is replacing Arias, and Priscila Rivera, will take Heredia’s role coming from the bench.”
Another key factor for the Dominican team will be the way the new starting setter Juana Gonzalez can handle the pressure playing before the local fans for the first time. During the World Cup she took the place of veteran captain Francia Jackson.
“We are using Gonzalez most of the time because her size and the way she can cooperate blocking at the net, and we are putting in Jackson to close matches due to her experience,” said Garbey.
“It is going to be a tough tournament with six matches in seven days, but it is the same for all teams,” he said.
The Dominicans will make their debut playing Mexico this Monday after the first match between Cuba and Canada. Puerto Rico, the fifth team, will play on Tuesday.