June 20, 2003 - Despite the absence of star spiker Richard Schuil, the Netherlands' head coach Bert Goedkoop has shown confidence in his side and said his team will still be gunning for two victories over Cuba this weekend on Friday and Saturday night (local time) in Havana's Ciudad Deportiva.
Schuil, the third best scorer so far in the World League, got injured during a training session prior to the Netherlands' duel with Bulgaria last weekend, when his team lost the first game 0-3, but won the second 3-2.
"Last Sunday's win motivated us to move on and we hope to win both matches in Havana," said Goedkoop in a press conference. "We have five or six other experienced players so we decided to let Schuil recover from the injury". The 21-year-old 197 cm tall Joram Maan will replace Schuil in the Netherlands line up at a time where two wins is crucial for the visitors to keep in touch with Serbia and Montenegro and Bulgaria and a Final Round qualifying spot in Pool C.
Cuba will also have a notable absentee in its regular lineup as spiker Yasser Portuondo suffered again from an injury he first incurred during the first weekend of competition in Bulgaria.
Portuondo, in only his second World League, will be replaced by 17-year newcomer Osmani Juantorena, who has performed well and has shown good on-court inspiration.
For this weekend's matches, Cuban coach Eliseo Ramos will count on the returning Pavel Pimienta, who did not travel to Serbia and Montenegro last weekend as he was recovering from a knee injury. Pimienta and spiker Tomas Aldazabal will be the most experienced players in a youthful squad but Ramos stated that his team is ready to give the Netherlands a stern test and is aim for victory themselves. "We admit our rival this weekend is very strong, but we can only reach our major goals by facing such teams", he said.
Match 1: Cuba v the Netherlands Saturday 00:40GMT
Match 2: Cuba v the Netherlands Sunday 00:40GMT