Japan, July 3, 2009 – With half of their World League group games
completed, Japan and Bulgaria face each other at Ariake Colosseum
this weekend knowing they have to improve.
had six matches with two wins and four losses and we prepared for
this match after a couple of matches against Russia, where we had one
win and one loss and improved our play and level a little," Bulgaria's Italian coach Silvano Prandi told the media on Friday. "This weekend, we hope to to continue to improve our quality of
play because we need to improve a lot."
enters the two-match series against Bulgaria coming off a poor
performance against Cuba in Toyama, where they lost in straight sets
on both days. Coach Tatsuya Ueta and his captain Daisuke Usami agree
that Japan needs to be stronger mentally.
are mentally weak and I think we have to be more proactive and each
one of us must understand our responsibility to the team," Japan
captain Daisuke Usami said after the Cuba game.
was equally direct: "My players need to communicate more on the
court. It seems that they don't worry about errors from their
teammates so much. They must change their way of thinking and should
encourage and criticize one another during the game. It will make the
players come together more as a team."
lies at the bottom of the Pool C standings with three points from a
1-5 win-loss record. Bulgaria has six points from a 2-4 record. The
group is led by Cuba (5-1) with 15 points, followed by Russia (4-2)
with 12 points.
Japan players can be encouraged by the fact that Bulgaria is the only
team they have managed to beat so far in the World League.
recognizes the strengths of the Japanese team.
Japanese team is strong and we will have a couple of difficult
matches here," the Italian noted. "But we are prepared and we
hope our level will be better than before."
cited Japan's setter Usami and opposite Kunihiro Shimizu as the main
threats on the Japan team. Shimizu is the World League's top scorer
with 114 points from six matches, while Usami is the third-best
setter. But that's as far as individual honors go for Japan. They
don't register in the Top 10 blockers, servers, diggers, receivers or
liberos. But if there was a stat for missed serves, Shimizu would
definitely be among the leaders.
have two of the tournament's top eight scorers in Vladimir Nikolov
and Matey Kaziyski, with Kaziyski being the top server, but they too
lack in individual stars, the only other Top 10 player being libero
Prandi comes to Japan a week after a valuable win over Russia,
coached by his friend Daniele Bagnoli.
is one of my best friends in volleyball," Prandi told the media in
Tokyo. "We played against each other for 20 years in the Italian
Championship. But now we are the coaches of Bulgaria and Russia and
he was a little bit nervous last weekend because he lost the first
match to us.
he prepared with good emotions for the second match and they changed
a lot between the first and second match. They played very well in
the second match against us. We didn't play badly, but they played
better. Bagnoli was very satisfied. I was not satisfied because it
was him! But he remains a very good friend of mine."
hoped all his players would appeal to the Japanese fans, noting that
Vladimir Nikolov used to play in Japan. He also warned that Kaziyski
was coming into his best form.
a really good player who is now getting into top shape," Prandi
stated. "He needed a rest after the Italian Championship, but now
noted that both teams had made a lot of mistakes in their first
meeting in Bulgaria. Despite the setback against Cuba, he was looking
for a positive response from his players.
six games in Pool C, we now know what we have to do," Ueta said. "Pool C is a tough group and with Russia, Bulgaria and Cuba, we're
up against a very high level of play. But I will never lose the
desire to challenge teams and put on exciting matches for the fans.
We're going to give it our best tomorrow and the day after."
is hoping to be boosted by the return from injury of wing spiker Yu
has many fans and they will come to the games to see him, so I expect
him to live up to their expectations and do his best."
their best, Japan can scare any team and they are probably due a good
result. Backed by a strong Tokyo crowd in the noisy Ariake Colosseum,
the pressure will be on Bulgaria. But Japan will need to keep their
errors down and try to negate the spiking power of Nikolov and
overall game of Kaziyski while hoping Shimizu, Koshikawa and Tatsuya
Fukuzawa can find their attacking form.
could be close.