Fukuoka and Okayama, November 27, 2007 – The venues in Fukuoka and Okayama saw today the end of the 3rd Round of the Men’s World Cup 2007: the standings still have Russia leading unbeaten, followed by Brazil, Bulgaria and U.S.A. Two rest days will prepare the stage for the final round, the 4th in the World Cup Round Robin, which will be played from Friday in Tokyo. Today’s action in Site A saw Argentina beat Egypt 3-1, Russia overpowered Puerto Rico 3-0 and Spain downed Japan 3-1. In site B, U.S.A. cruised past Australia in straight sets, Bulgaria beat Tunisia 3-1 and Brazil defeated Korea.
Russia will head to Tokyo for the final phase of the World Cup with a perfect 8-0 win-loss record after taming Puerto Rico 3-0 at Marine Messe Fukuoka on Tuesday. The European vice champions, who have won the World Cup five times as the former Soviet Union and as Russia, downed Puerto Rico 25-22, 25-21, 25-19. They have dropped only one set so far and have three more matches to clinch a place on the podium and qualify for the Beijing Olympics. Puerto Rico, with victories over European champions Spain and NORCECA champions USA behind them, dropped to 4-4 and will hope continental rivals USA seal a top-three spot to ease their own passage to Beijing.
Russian head coach Vladimir Alekno said: “Our performance in this match was not so good, especially at the start of the game. This does not mean we under-estimated the opponent, but already I am thinking about the last round in Tokyo”.
Captain Hector “Picky” Soto stated: “It was a difficult match as we expected, but I think we came out and had a decent match given the circumstances, how strong the Russian team has been playing. The result was 3-0 but we did some good things and we are not completely disappointed about the loss. It helps us prepare for the next round, so I am almost happy with the way we played”.
In the first match of Site A, Argentina held off a sparkling Egyptian rally to win the first match of the day 3-1 at Marine Messe Fukuoka on Tuesday. The South American vice champions improved their World Cup win-loss record to 5-3 with a hard fought 25-22, 25-19, 16-25, 25-21 victory. The African champions dropped to 0-8 but gave Argentina plenty of problems in the last two sets.
“We were a little bit fresher today. We played concentrated for the first two sets and we created some opportunities to counter attack. In the third set we lost track of the match and finally we came back in the fourth set. We played with discipline and consistency, and that is very important”, said Argentina head coach Jon Uriarte during the press conference after the match.
Japan felt the full force of Spain in the third match of the day at Marine Messe Fukuoka. In front of a crowd of 6,150, the recently crowned European champions recovered from a slow start to pound Japan 3-1 with a score of 24-26, 25-19, 25-18, 25-19. The victory improved Spain's World Cup win-loss record to 4-4 with three matches remaining, while dropping Japan to 3-5.
Captain Rafael Pascual stated: “I am very happy to win because it was against Japan in Japan, and that made it a difficult match. We studied how to play against Japan and set up our tactics accordingly, and we were able to make full use of this to produce the victory. Now we must continue and finish as high as possible in the classification to try and win a ticket to the Olympics”.
In Site B, NORCECA champions United States cruised past Asian champions Australia 25-17, 25-12, 25-19. Led by the impressive William Priddy and man of the match Lloy Ball at Momotaro Arena in Okayama, the U.S. were far too powerful for the Aussies and improved to 6-2, while Russell Borgeaud’s men dropped to 3-5.
Head coach Hugh McCutcheon said: “We were pretty good in all aspects of the game. One of our goals coming into this round was stability and we have achieved that. The defense and block worked well together and we were serving well. We just need to get ready for the Japan match now in Tokyo and we're taking it one match at a time. I hope we get some good training in”.
Wild cards Bulgaria had to work hard to overcome African vice champions Tunisia in four sets. The Bulgarians, third at last year’s World Championships, won 26-24, 22-25, 25-15, 25-17 to improve to 6-2, while Tunisia dropped to 1-7. Man of the match was Bulgaria’s Todor Aleksiev. Aleksiev, Matey Kaziyski and Vladimir Nikolov were in scintillating form from the get-go against Tunisia, with spikes aplenty, while Evgeni Ivanov was blocking well at the net.
“There are no easy matches here and today it was proven to be the case. I'm happy we won today and if we continue to use our strength and power then the results will come”, said Bulgaria player Hristo Tsvetanov.
In the last match of the day, Brazil romped past Korea 25-20, 25-17, 25-20 to improve to 7-1. The Olympic and world champions dropped the wild card Koreans to 1-7 on the back of stylish play from man of the match Gilberto Godoy Filho (Giba) and Murilo Endres. Brazil once more chose to rotate players, with Murilo and Andre Heller in the starting lineup again and spike machine Guimaraes Amaral Dante starting on the sidelines. Giba was back playing after a day’s rest.
The Brazilian head coach Bernardo Rezende said: “It's very difficult to play against Korea with their speed, movement they make and how they set up their attacks. We failed a little in blocking and defense but our attack was OK today. We now have two days without matches, one day of rest and one day of training, and then it is the final round. We've had three wins in Okayama and have to now get three results against Argentina, Russia and Japan to reach our goal of an Olympics place”.
The 4th Round of the Men’s World Cup 2007 will start Friday 30th November in Tokyo. Three days of competition, 18 matches overall, will take place in Tokyo: Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (Venue A) and Komazawa Gymnasium (Venue B). The event will end on 2nd December with the last match: the first three teams in the ranking will go to the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008.
COMPETITION SCHEDULE (4TH ROUND)
City date Loc time GMT Match
Tokyo (A) 30 Nov 14,05 05,05 Argentina – Brazil
Tokyo (A) 30 Nov 16,35 07,35 Bulgaria – Russia
Tokyo (A) 30 Nov 19,30 10,30 Japan – U.S.A.
Tokyo (B) 30 Nov 12,35 03,35 Puerto Rico – Tunisia
Tokyo (B) 30 Nov 15,05 06,05 Egypt – Korea
Tokyo (B) 30 Nov 18,05 09,05 Australia – Spain
Tokyo (A) 01 Dec 14,05 05,05 Argentina – U.S.A.
Tokyo (A) 01 Dec 16,35 07,35 Brazil – Russia
Tokyo (A) 01 Dec 19,30 10,30 Japan – Bulgaria
Tokyo (B) 01 Dec 12,35 03,35 Egypt – Tunisia
Tokyo (B) 01 Dec 15,05 06,05 Spain – Korea
Tokyo (B) 01 Dec 18,05 09,05 Australia – Puerto Rico
Tokyo (A) 02 Dec 14,05 05,05 Argentina – Bulgaria
Tokyo (A) 02 Dec 16,35 07,35 U.S.A. – Russia
Tokyo (A) 02 Dec 19,30 10,30 Japan – Brazil
Tokyo (B) 02 Dec 12,35 03,35 Spain – Tunisia
Tokyo (B) 02 Dec 14,35 05,35 Puerto Rico – Korea
Tokyo (B) 02 Dec 17,35 08,35 Australia – Egypt
STANDINGS AFTER THE 3rd ROUND
Russia 16 points; Brazil 15; Bulgaria and USA 14; Argentina 13; Puerto Rico and Spain 12, Japan and Australia 11; Korea and Tunisia 9; Egypt 8.
(2 points for victory, 1 for loss).
MATCH DESCRIPTIONS, PRESS CONFERENCES, FREE PICTURES
The FIVB provides complete real time coverage of the event. Match descriptions, press conference reports and free pictures downloadable in high resolution for Media purpose are available from the home page of the FIVB website (www.fivb.org)
“FOLLOW ME” BY ANDREA ZORZI
Andrea Zorzi, the former Italian national Volleyball player and two times World Champion, is working on his special blog “Follow Me” from the FIVB website home page. New articles have been uploaded, explaining technical topics and big stories of the event. The last video interview published on “Follow Me” is with the US Volleyball opposite attacker Gabriel Gardner.