June 11, 2003 - Following two defeats during the first two weekends of the World League Intercontinental Rounds the alarm bells were ringing within the Serbia and Montenegro camp as qualification for the World League Finals in Spain in July looked shaky. But two victories (3-2 and 3-1) over Cuba last weekend in Havana did a lot to stem the concern surrounding the performances of the Olympic and European Champions, as the "Blue" team moved into second place (the top two from each pool qualify for the World League Finals) in Pool C, level on points but behind on Set Ratio with first-placed Bulgaria.
After a long journey home, the Balkan team is now preparing to host Cuba in two matches, one on Friday in Novi Sad and the second game in Podgorica on Sunday and coach Veselin Vukovic is determined to prove that the early crisis was only a temporary weakness and that his team will perform when it matters most.
"The matches in Havana showed that my colleague, Mr. Eliseo Ramos, has a very young and promising team," said Vukovic. "We would surely expect two triumphs before our spectators, but that does not mean it will be easy to beat them.
"The only way to get to the Finals in Madrid is to establish the most serious possible approach to the game and matches. Bulgaria has certainly filed in for the Finals in Madrid with two victories over the Netherlands, therefore we are not entitled to miss any games against Cuba."
The citizens of Novi Sad, true admirers and excellent experts of volleyball sport, will have the opportunity for the first time this year to welcome their favourite players for the match starting 18:00GMT. On the other hand, Serbia and Montenegro fans in Podgorica are convinced that in their second duel in this city, their team will be able to make up for the earlier defeat to Bulgaria in Week 3.