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FIVB World League 2006
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Bulgaria challenge France in the first semi-final

(from left) Samica, Exiga and Montmeat of France
Moscow, 26th August 2006 - Unbeaten Bulgaria will take on France in today's first semi-final. The two teams last met in the Intercontinental Rounds of last year's competition, splitting their home and away matches - Bulgaria winning in straight sets, France in two five-set matches. This will be France's first time in the final four (the team's best placing so far was fifth in 2004, 2001 and the first-ever tournament in 1990), whereas Bulgaria has reached the final six in the past three editions and made the semi-finals in 2004, where the team finished fourth.

Bulgaria's head coach gave nothing away ahead of today's match, but France's head coach Philippe Blain was looking forward to the challenge of playing against Bulgaria, after his team were upset by Serbia and Montenegro in their final pool play match yesterday. "The most important thing is that we qualified for the semi-finals," he said, "but it was disappointing to be 17-10 up in the first set and then lose. We had to find the last drop of energy to pull through, because you don't often have the chance to play Bulgaria in the semi-finals."

France qualified with a superior points ratio after Serbia and Montenegro drew level with them on points following their victory in yesterday's head-to-head encounter.