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Russia’s coach curious about hot weather and home crowd in Havana

Cuban and Russian coaches and captains during the press conference in Havana

Havana, Cuba June 19, 2009.- The hot weather reigning in the Cuban capital and the home crowd supporting the local national team should be dangerous rivals for the Russian team, the next rival of Cuba in the FIVB World League on Friday and Saturday.

Daniel Bagnoli, the Italian at the helm of the Beijing’s bronze medallists, thinks those are two elements to take in count in the first outing even though he hopes the experience of his pupils can prevail over the physical power of the local boys.

“I am curious about the way my team behaves under these tough conditions, playing in the opponents’ soil and under this weather,” said Bagnoli.

“I am pretty sure that the Cuban side is the one better prepared for this World League and is in superb shape, so it is a good opportunity to test the possibilities of my squad of achieving our hopes, and those are to win and keep moving on,” he added.

Bagnoli was questioned by the local media about the renovations implemented in the United States and Russia teams, the Olympics gold and silver medallists, and the fact that the Russian side seems to be one of the strongest this season.

“I have accepted that responsibility because I think the team has the chance to make great things,” he answered. “We have not made many changes because the players are very young and in order to win you need the balance between that condition and the experience.”

He also pointed out that this year’s World League will give him the chance to know more about his players looking towards the 2010 World Championship.

Meanwhile, the Cuban team will not make many important changes. Henry Bell comes in replacing reserve setter Lian Sem Estrada because, as Coach Orlando Samuels informed, “Yoandi Leal has been with fever and a cold and he is not sure at 100 per cent for the weekend.”

“The other setters, Yoandr Diaz and Raydel Hierrezuelo are in top shape, so I can count on four attackers and Rolando Cepeda will start as opposite as he is better prepared than Michael Sanchez and the one who played in all the preparation matches,” said Samuels.

Regarding the liberos, he said named Keibel Gutierrez as his starter because “I can see him with more stability plus we will need the reception anticipating that Russian will attack with the service. They have been working a lot with the floating serves because they seem to know that we have some difficulties with that type of action.”

“We are also anxious to see how my young squad react in these so important matches. We recognize the Russian team as one of the best in the world today but nevertheless we think our group is prepared to face them successfully. We just have to wait and see how my pupils react under this pressure and I am expecting an emotional match with a lot of quality.”

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