Proud Portugal aim for second-place
Japan, July 1, 2005 - They have been on
the road since June 15, but Portugal
will give it one last push in the 2005
World League Pool A this weekend.
With a 6-4 win-loss record in 10 outings,
Portugal can wrap up a creditable second
place behind Brazil with a couple of
wins against Japan (0-10) at Yoyogi
National Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.
"The players are a little tired
physically, but they are ready to play,"
Portugal's team doctor, Armando Brandao,
said after the team's practice session
on Friday afternoon.
"They have played in Brazil and then
Venezuela on consecutive weekends, but
in spite of the tiredness they want to
finish well. The target is to finish in
second place, and they are concentrated
on the game and ready to win."
Pic: One last push - Portugal's Nuno
Pinheiro (3) and captain Joao Jose (12)
contest possession with Japan's Rio
Matsunaga during the opening round of
the World League
Brazil (9-1) have already clinched first
place in Pool A to guarantee a spot in
the four-team World League finals in
Belgrade from July 8-10.
Portugal (6-4) are second, but could
still be overtaken by Venezuela (5-5),
although it would be a major surprise if
Venezuela won a match in Brazil on the
last weekend of Intercontinental action.
Portugal's head coach, Orlando Samuels
of Cuba, would be satisfied to finish as
group runners-up behind the reigning
World League champions.
"I feel that the team is in good
condition, physically and technically,"
he told an official news conference on
"The biggest improvement I have noticed
in the players this year is that the
individual level has risen, so that all
the players are equal and the team is
As for Japan, they have won only three
sets in 10 matches, and will be without
their first-choice setter, Daisuke Usami,
again due to injury.
Head coach Tatsuya Ueta admitted that
his team needed to train harder to
bridge the gap at the top of world
"We have some players who are very good
in the domestic league, but do not
produce the same level in international
games," said Ueta.
"I know they can play better, so we must
practice harder, starting in July for
the Grand Champions Cup (in November)."