Bulgaria is impatiently looking forward
to its first home matches of this year’s World League after having
suffered two losses in Cuba during the competition’s first weekend.
Everybody involved - coaches, players, media and fans - are eager to
see the Lions prove that what happened in Cuba was just a small
stumble on the road to another successful season in one of the most
popular sporting events in the southern European country.
The beautiful Black Sea city of Varna
is once again the venue of all of Bulgaria's home matches, which begin this weekend against Japan.
The Lions returned to Varna from Havana on Tuesday and
managed to squeeze in their first training session in preparation for
the encounters with Japan.
Italian coach of the Bulgarians, Silvano Prandi, who made his debut against Cuba, has
yet to decide whether changes to his 14-strong squad are necessary
to produce a more successful performance against Japan.
The last time Japan beat Bulgaria
was back in October 2002 at the FIVB World Championship in Argentina
after a five-set thriller in Buenos Aires. In the 2004 World League, Bulgaria secured four wins against their East Asian rival and followed that up
with two more victories at the 2007 World Cup and the 2008 Olympics.
Bulgarian captain Andrey Zhekov
appeared calm after returning from Havana: “We played well,
especially in the first match in Cuba, although the results do not
show it. We are now particularly motivated to win twice against
Japan, which is a must if we want to qualify for the Final Round. The
team is working hard under the new coaching staff. We are training
and learning new things and we are all convinced they will lead us to