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Cracking clash between Cuba and Poland to open World League Final Round

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 4, 2005 – Two of the most electrifying teams in men's Volleyball – Cuba and Poland - have been given the honour of playing the opening match of the 2005 World League Final Round, which starts on Friday in the "Belgrade Arena" Hall of Sports, Serbia and Montenegro.

The official match schedule for this breathtaking climax to the premier annual men's Volleyball tournament has been confirmed with Cuba and Poland playing at 17:00 (local time) before defending champions Brazil take on hosts and last year’s bronze medalists Serbia and Montenegro in the second match at 20:00, in what is a repeat of the riveting 2003 final in Madrid, in which Brazil prevailed 3-2 (25-16, 21-25, 19-25, 25-23, 31-29).

The winner from each of the opening day matches will play the loser from the opposing match on Saturday to find out who will reach Sunday’s final to play for the honour of 2005 World League champion. The losers of Saturday’s matches will play for third and fourth.
Pic: Poland have already played in Belgrade beating Serbia & Montenegro 3-1 (25-19, 25-22, 22-25, 26-24) in Week Three
Cuba, ranked 16th in the world, have been the revelation of the tournament, with their young and athletic squad revisiting the Cuban World League glory days of the 90’s when Cuba finished no worst than fourth.

Their eight wins and four defeats during the Intercontinental Round were enough to pip eight time champions Italy in the race for the finals ticket in Pool B, confirming their place with victory in their final match against France. This will be the first finals series which Italy has missed in all 16 editions of the World League.

Poland, ranked seventh in the world, had an equally exciting journey. With bumper home crowds watching their every move, the Poles overcome a difficult injury toll and some stern opposition to finish top of Pool C with nine wins and three defeats.

Olympic champions Brazil had the best Intercontinental Round record , despite losing their first World League match in 25 games dating back to 2003 (against Portugal in Week Two in an historic straight sets (25-22, 25-20, 25-23) defeat), with a 11-1 win-loss return.

As hosts, Serbia and Montenegro automatically qualified but looked all the part, storming to a 7-5 win-loss record including five wins out of their last six matches, which not surprisingly coincided with the return of some of their big stars - Nikola Grbić, Ivan Miljković and Andrija Gerić.

For this special occasion, the FIVB would like to inform all journalists that a hotel, the Best Western Hotel M" in Belgrade, has been reserved for those wishing to attend and cover the finals of the premier men's annual Volleyball event.

For those wishing to attend, please fill in the accreditation form on the FIVB website and fax or email it to the FIVB Press Department on +41 21 345 35 45 or
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