Khabarovsk, Russia, July 4, 2009 – Russia and Cuba will clash on Sunday in their forth match of 2009 FIVB World League to battle for the first place in Pool C. Both teams have the same 5-2 win-loss record but the Cubans lead the group two points ahead of Russia.
All three previous matches of these teams were very close and ended up in tiebreaks, two of them won by the Russians. “It’s good to play such tough games,” says Russian head coach Daniele Bagnoli. “Our team needs to struggle on the court. This way we can come to know what are the things that we should worked on to improve our game.”
Saturday night the packed 7000-capacity Platinum Arena in Khabarovsk enjoyed another thrilling match won by the hosts. However the Cubans, known for their poor away form over the years, proved to be just as strong in Khabarovsk as they were at home.
The only thing that upset not only the Central American team but also the Russians were referees’ mistakes. Russian captain Sergey Tetyukhin had to admit that there were some of them and Daniele Bagnoli agreed saying it would be nice to win without any help of the referees. Now it’s up to the Cubans not to give up and keep their fighting spirit for the Sunday’s match.
Russia will probably miss libero Alexey Verbov who was training little this week because of a back injury.