April 22, 2003 - Veteran setter Masayoshi Manabe has been recalled in to the Japanese men's World League team after 26-year-old Makoto Yamaguchi was ruled out over the weekend following the news he requires surgery on his injured shoulder.
Manabe, 39, is one of the stalwarts of Japanese Volleyball with 203 appearances during which time he has participated in four World Championships, two World Leagues and two World Cups since making his debut during the 1985 World Cup in his home country. But last year, despite being named in early season squads, was absent at the World League and missed all of Japan's credible campaign at the 2002 World Championship in Argentina where they finished ninth.
As coach Mikiyasu Tanaka, a former legendary player in his own rite, continues to try and turn Japan back into the former Volleyball powerhouse it used to be, the loss of Yamaguchi is a blow.
Tanaka has previously based his selections on youth as Japan struggled through the 2002 World League, scoring a solitary win and 11 defeats in the Intercontinental Round, however the World Championship result last year was a result of some of the hard work paying off.
So after last year's motto of "Challenge and Experience" the maxim has now changed to "burn your spirit to challenge" for 2003 and Tanaka is already touching that side of the game in his pre-season training methods. The Japanese team has just completed a three-day mental training camp in which they built up their positive psychological approach for the 2003 World League. Takana, is now reportably confident that his players are mentally strong as individuals and have a clear objective to achieve, which is qualification for the World League finals in Madrid.