Tokyo, 1st November 2007 – The FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007 will start tomorrow in Tokyo and Hamamatsu. Twelve Women’s teams are ready to compete, targeting the podium and the first three berths for Beijing 2008. The Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo and the Arena in Hamamtsu will stage the 1st round, a three-day competition that will continue then in Osaka and Sendai (2nd Round), Sapporo and Kumamoto (3rd round) and Nagoya (4th round), until November 16th.
His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito will be the guest of honour at the opening ceremony at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, starting at 6.30pm.
After the playing of the FIVB anthem, the players of the six teams at each venue will enter the arena. The President of the Japan Volleyball Association, Masao Tachiki, who is the tournament Committee Chairman, and the FIVB President Dr. Ruben Acosta H. will offer greetings, before the athletes’ oath is taken by Japan captain Yoshie Takeshita.
With the formalities over, the crowd will be entertained by the 10-member boy band “Hey! Say! Jump”, whose single, “Ultra Music Power”, will be the World Cup soundtrack.
Fuji Television will be the Official Home Broadcaster, producing all the matches for Women and Men’s tournament for a worldwide distribution.
HEAD COACHES PRESS CONFERENCE IN TOKYO
Beato Cruz (Dominican Republic): “Our team is supposed to be quite well balanced with a mixture of experienced and young players, but there is more youth than experience. From the head coach's point of view I think we can perform well. This is the second time for us to play in the World Cup. The last time we were 10th and our goal this time is to make a better finish, meaning ninth or higher. I think we can win three or four matches. Our first match will be against Japan, which will be very difficult. This will be the third game between the two teams recently; we lost the first time in five sets and the second time 3-0, so now we are looking forward to this third meeting. Japan has good speed, a good attack and combinations, so it will be a great challenge for us. As always, though, we will be positive.”
Massimo Barbolini (Italy): “For us to arrive here as the European champions is a very big honour, and we know it will be difficult because there are many teams trying to get the target of Olympic qualification. We know that Thailand is a team that obtained a very, very good result in the last Asian Championship. We know that it is a team that plays very fast and the kind of play not used in Europe, so we have to show the maximum respect for this match because, like every competition, the first match is not easy and we will play against a team that is in a very, very good moment.”
Zoran Terzic (Serbia): “The last time we were in Japan for the World Championship we played very good and got third place. Now we have the same target and, of course, we will try to repeat this success. It will be very hard, but I think we have the power to repeat the success from the World Championship. We do not feel under any pressure to be first, second or third. We just try to do our best in all competitions and enjoy our volleyball. This is our target. For the first match (against Korea) we have the same situation as Italy, playing against a team that plays different volleyball... much faster and much better defence. I think that if we play good and strong, especially in service, we have a big chance to win this game. We won against Korea in the World Championship last year and I think it will be the same this time.”
Lee Jung-Chul (Korea): “Our team has been in transition for two or three years from the old to the new generation, and now we have more young players than before. I think we can perform well and play as we did in the past at this World Cup. Some of our top players have been injured and many of them are still on the recovery path. It is difficult for me to force them to play as soon as possible. I must be careful how I manage them because we have important games in the future, too. Our first game is against Serbia and it is going to be hard, but since it is the first match it is very important for us. Last year we had the chance to play Serbia in the World Championship and we lost, so this time we would like to make a pay back and win the game.”
Nataphon Srisamutnak (Thailand): “It is a great honour for Thai volleyball to come here to play in the World Cup for the first time. We are small players and do not have much experience, but we will try our best and play faster combinations and technique. The other teams are tall, quite experienced and very strong, so it is not easy, but we will show the spirit of Thai volleyball to the Japanese fans. We hope the Japanese fans come here to cheer the Thailand team.”
Shoichi Yanagimoto (Japan): I think our team condition is getting better and better, day by day. I became head coach in 2003 and I have tried using a variety of players, especially in the last two years, to play different styles of volleyball. I feel that my trials are starting to bear fruit now, because we were able to win the Asian Championship. This has also given my players more confidence. We will face tough matches continuously in the World Cup but I believe the strong and well-balanced teams will survive. We start against the Dominican Republic, and every team at this World Cup is a good team. Every match will be tough and important in this league, especially the first match, so we would like to be in our best condition and play our best game from the start. Dominican Republic is good on offence, very strong in attack and spike, but that applies not only to the Dominican Republic; it applies to the rest of the teams at this world level. We have prepared and tried to put special focus on defence because that is always one of the main themes for the team. We have to prepare and react as the match develops.”
HEAD COACHES PRESS CONFERENCE IN HAMAMATSU
José Roberto Guimaraes (Brazil): “This World Cup is very difficult as we have 11 matches over two weeks and there are only three Olympic qualifying places up for grabs, but we will try our best. Every team is a potential powerhouse or strong team and we know it is a long way over two weeks, but we don’t know what will happen once the game starts. There is always the possibility to win.”
Antonio Perdomo (Cuba): “As the coach of Brazil said, I also think the World Cup games are difficult because all teams are of a high level and only the top three teams can get to the Olympics. We will do our best as much as all the other teams. We hope to promote volleyball through these games.”
Sammy Kirongo (Kenya): “We are very happy to be here representing Africa. The level of competition is very high and there are other teams that are much better than us. But we have come here and want to show people we are doing a good job and can play good volleyball. I know that only three teams will go to China for the Olympics, but I can say maybe we can be there.”
Enio Figueiredo (Peru): “As every coach has said, we know that this competition is a difficult competition, but we prepared well and trained well and will do our best to take a ticket to next summer’s Olympic Games.”
Marco Bonitta (Poland): “As the other coaches have mentioned, we know this competition is long and difficult. We know there are strong teams, maybe better than us, but we will do our best. There is the possibility that we will win.”
Jenny Lang Ping (USA): “I last played in a World Cup in 1981 and it was a very long tournament. I remember I hit over 1,000 balls. Everybody knows this is a hard, long tournament and teams have an equal opportunity to fight for the top three spots. We will try to play consistently and take any opportunity to win.”
How do you approach a round-robin tournament with 11 games vs. a knockout tourney?
Jenny Lang Ping (USA): “You have an equal opportunity because everybody plays everybody else. It’s not like the World Championship. Second, I think it was hard for us to prepare because we had just four days before coming to Japan because all the players had to fly back from different countries as they were overseas. So we didn’t have time to build up our condition and train.”
Marco Bonitta (Poland): “This is 11 games over 15 long days and we’ve had to prepare to be in good condition for these games.”
Enio Figueiredo (Peru): “The game style between a single competition and a knockout competition is different. We know that we have to compete with each other in all these games so the goal is to fight and play our best from the beginning. The results will depend on physical condition and we will know the answer when the final game is over.”
Sammy Kirongo (Kenya): “Playing many matches especially for teams coming from the other side of the world is very important to continue getting experience from the players and tactics of other countries. It is good for a country that is coming up; there will be some tough matches.”
Antonio Perdomo (Cuba): “Needless to say our game condition depends on rhythm; it doesn’t always depend on the trainer’s efforts. Unfortunately, we were affected by the Air France strike so couldn’t arrive on schedule. This delay will have a bad effect on the team, but we will do our best anyway.”
José Roberto Guimaraes (Brazil): “As mentioned, every team has their own condition and situation, but Cuba had a long time to prepare for these games. Teams including Brazil, Poland and the USA had many players who were in other countries so they had at most only 15 days to prepare. But all games will depend on team preparations.”
THE BROADCASTERS LIST IS INCREASING: 21 TELEVISIONS WILL SHOW THE WORLD CUP MATCHES
The list of national and international broadcasters which will cover the World Cup 2007 is increasing day by day. The images, which are domestically produced in full high definition standard by Fuji TV, will be broadcasted by Polsat Poland, KBS N Korea, Shanghai Media Group (Great Sport Channel), PCCW Hong Kong, Channel 7 Thailand, RTS Serbia, Puerto Rico, HiTV Nigeria, RTR Russia, NBC U.S.A., ICRT Cuba, TyC Argentina, Telesport Romania, KBC Kenya, Ma Chaine Sport (France), Al Jazeera Sport, VTV Vietnam, Rai (Italy), Sport TV (Portugal) and Channel 5 (Israel).
“FOLLOW ME” BY ANDREA ZORZI. VIDEO INTERVIEWS WITH THE WORLD CUP STARS ON THE FIVB WEBSITE
Andrea Zorzi, the former Italian national Volleyball player and two times World Champion, will continue his special blog “Follow Me” on the FIVB website home page. As during the last World League and World Grand Prix, Zorzi will produce articles and video interviews in Japan with Head Coaches and top players, revealing the secrets of the game and players’ lives, raising the curtain on the backstage of the FIVB event.