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 Press Release
Belgrade ready to host World League Final Round: Six teams to battle for crown

Coaches at the World League Final Round: Igor Kolakovic (SRB), Javier Weber (ARG), Bernardo Rezende (BRA), Orlando Samuels (CUB), Daniele Bagnoli (RUS), Alan Knipe (USA)

Belgrade, Serbia, July 21, 2009 – The US$18 million FIVB World League Final Round is ready for its official start on Wednesday in Belgrade. The final act before the first whistle was the head coaches’ press conference that took place on Tuesday at Beogradska Arena, the 20,000-seat venue of the 2009 World League Final Round.


The six best teams from the Pool Round are competing to reach the semifinals on Saturday. USA are the defending World League champions after their win in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2008. However, as with all the teams at the tournament, the U.S. are going through a renewal process at the start of the new Olympic cycle, and may find it difficult to match their outstanding 2008 season when they won the World League title and the Olympic Games in Beijing.


All the coaches said they were glad to have made the Final Round in Belgrade after six weekends of tough matches in the Intercontinental Round, which finished last Sunday.


Igor Kolakovic (Serbia head coach): “It’s a great pleasure to be here in Belgrade and being at home motivates us to play even better. Six of the best teams in the world are here, so our goal is to challenge each point. We’re in the pool with Russia and USA and it will be really difficult for us, but I hope that our people will give us their utmost support. (About the pressure of playing in Belgrade:) Nobody is giving us pressure, but we will do our best to reach the peak. Rather than pressure, our expectations and sporting ambition should be high because our team is used to being at the top. We’re going to try our best to do our best.”


Javier Weber (Argentina head coach): “We’re happy to be here, it’s very important for my team to play against the world’s best teams. We’re not the favourites since my group is still under development. We’re already concentrating on the first match with Cuba on Wednesday and then we will face Brazil.”


Bernardo Rezende (Brazil head coach): “Qualifying was our first goal, since we have a new group. Probably our intercontinental pool was not that tough, but now it is different. Argentina is a young team but they’re in a good stretch and coached very well, while Cuba is growing match by match. We want to be competitive and fight every team. (About older players returning to the team:) For sure Dante will be back after the World League, maybe even Nascimento can return to the team. I don’t know about Gustavo, maybe. But this is the moment for the youngest Brazilian players to show their talent.”


Orlando Samuels Blackwood (Cuba head coach): “Being in the Final Round makes Cuba very happy. We’re just at the beginning with a new team, young and willing to win. We already won in the intercontinental pool against Russia and Bulgaria, two strong teams, so now we hope to offer a nice show.”


Daniele Bagnoli (Russia head coach): “It’s my first time here with a team as an international coach, I always saw the World League from the stands or on TV … Russia is used to being in such an event: We suffered a lot to be here and I think this made us stronger. Now it’s time to show it on the court and this will be difficult. Apart form some exceptions, all the best teams of the world are here. I’m confident for my team. (With regard to a so-called European crisis in Volleyball:) All the teams here deserved to qualify. However, even if the World League is a peculiar competition, we can say that Europe may not be as representative of the sport as it used to be.”


Alan Knipe (USA head coach): “Thanks to Serbia for this organization and congratulations to all the teams who are here. We have some transitions as well, with new faces in the staff and roster. We achieved our goal of getting into the finals. I was pleased with many of my players, both men from the former team and the younger players. We want to play the best Volleyball we can so we can establish where we are now. (On being new as coach, after McCutcheon left to coach USA Women’s team): Coaching a team that has won so much in the past months is not difficult, the opposite would be worse. The gym culture is high in this group, the players tasted the success and now they want more.”




Former Italian Volleyball world champion Andrea Zorzi is in Belgrade to blog on the FIVB website with his project “Follow Me.” A click away from the FIVB homepage, “Follow Me” will track all the technical and backstage aspects of the World League Final Round with videos and articles. An interview with the head coach of Russia’s Daniele Bagnoli is already online, to be enjoyed by fans and media.




Pool E: Serbia, Russia, USA

Pool F: Argentina, Brazil, Cuba




Wednesday, July 22

17.30 hrs: Argentina – Cuba

20.30 hrs: Serbia – USA


Thursday, July 23

17.30: Cuba – Brazil

20.30: USA – Russia


Friday, July 24

17.30: Brazil – Argentina

20.30: Russia – Serbia


Saturday, July 25

17.30: Semifinal

20.30: Semifinal


Sunday, July 26

17.00: Bronze medal match

20.00: Gold medal match





Participations: 10

Gold: 0

Silver: 0


Best result: 6th place in 1999



Participations: 19

Gold: 7 (93, 01, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07)

Silver: 2 (95, 02)

Bronze: 4 (90, 94, 99, 00)



Participations: 18

Gold: 1 (98)

Silver: 5 (91, 92, 94, 97, 99)

Bronze: 2 (95, 05)



Participations: 17

Gold: 1 (02)

Silver: 4 (93, 98, 00, 07)

Bronze: 6 (91, 96, 97, 01, 06, 08)



Participations: 11

Gold: 0

Silver: 3 (03, 05, 08)

Bronze: 2 (02, 04)



Participations: 11

Gold: 1 (08)

Silver: 0

Bronze: 2 (92, 07)


*Medals collected as Serbia, Serbia & Montenegro and Yugoslavia


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