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World League 2002 - Previews & Reviews
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PREVIEW
Face-off for last finals berth in last Intercontinental Round

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 30, 2002 – The FIVB $15 Million World League goes down to the wire this weekend in the sixth and last Intercontinental Round with traditional Balkan rivals Yugoslavia and Greece facing a battle of attrition in Pool D for the final berth.

France tops the Pool with Yugoslavia second and Greece close behind and while France should finish Pool leader, Yugoslavia must be wary of Greece, which has been enjoying continually improving form as the tournament progresses. Greece goes to Japan, which like Venezuela, has failed to win any of their 10 matches so far, while Yugoslavia is home to France, who beat them 3-0, 3-1 in the first round.

Meanwhile Italy and Spain have already qualified at the top of Pool B, with China and Venezuela chanceless going into the last round.

Russia, with only one loss so far, hosts Netherlands and both are already through to the final. Some of the Dutch players have opted to miss the trip. The tournament’s top scorer Richard Schuil will stay home to recover from a small injury. Guido Gortzen, who has been facing a heavy club program for Italian champion Modena will rest up ahead of the finals and setter Nico Freriks is out with travel-related stomach problems. The three will be replaced by third setter Erik Siebers and attackers Dennis van der Veen and Wytze Kooistra will go instead to Russia. Germany and the young an inexperienced Cuban side have exited now the tournament.

The tournament, the richest for men’s Volleyball, pits 16 of the world’s top national teams against each other in the Intercontinental Rounds, with eight teams advancing to the finals, this year in Brazil, in the cities of Recife and Belo Horizonte. Brazil, as finals host, qualifies automatically, but still tops Pool A going into the last round. Poland, the other qualifier in the group, has a theoretical chance to top the table this weekend when they meet Portugal at home.

Brazil is also the defending titleholder, but Italy has won more titles than any other nation in the history of the competition. They have won eight from 12 World League titles since 1990.

Match Schedule

Friday, August 2
Russia vs. Netherlands (Pool C), Belgorod, GMT 1400, Local 1800
Poland vs. Portugal (Pool A), Worclaw, GMT 1700, Local 1900
Venezuela vs. China (Pool B), Barquisimeto, GMT 2330, Local 1930
Yugoslavia vs. France (Pool D), Podgorica, GMT 1815, Local 2015
Italy vs. Spain (Pool B), Catania, GMT 1830, Local 2030
Argentina vs. Brazil (Pool A), Rosario, GMT 0000, Local 2100

Saturday, August 3
Germany vs. Cuba (Pool C), Leipzig, GMT 1300, Local 1500
Japan vs. Greece (Pool D), Toyama, GMT 0600, Local 1500
Poland vs. Portugal (Pool A), Worclaw, GMT 1300, Local 1500
Argentina vs. Brazil, Rosario (Pool A), GMT 2100, Local 1800
Russia vs. Netherlands (Pool C), Belgorod, GMT 1400, Local 1800

Sunday, August 4
Germany vs. Cuba (Pool C), Leipzig, GMT 0900, Local 1100
Japan vs. Greece (Pool D), Toyama, GMT 0500, Local 1400
Venezuela vs. China (Pool B), Cabimas, GMT 2330, Local 1930
Yugoslavia vs. France (Pool D), Novi Sad, GMT 1815, Local 2015
Italy vs. Spain (Pool B), Caserta, GMT 1830, Local 2030


Key matches
• Friday: Yugoslavia vs. France (Pool D), Podgorica, GMT 1815, Local 2015
• Saturday: Japan vs. Greece (Pool D), Toyama, GMT 0600, Local 1500
• Sunday: Japan vs. Greece (Pool D), Toyama, GMT 0500, Local 1400
• Sunday: Yugoslavia vs. France (Pool D), Novi Sad, GMT 1815, Local 2015