Press release

Zero Hour approaches at Men’s Junior event in Brazil


The 16 coaches participating in the 2011 FIVB Men's Junior World Championship have the chance to share experiences as they prepared to manage their sides to the victory in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 31, 2011 – As all the clocks continue the countdown to the first whistle at the FIVB Men’s Junior World Championship in the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Niteroi, the coaches of the 16 participating teams took time to express their thoughts about goals and expectations for the competition.

While India’s H.M. Kumara hopes to improve from their fourth place two years ago and United States’ John Hawks IV dreams with the gold as he tries to win the first medal ever for his country at this age-group level, Brazil’s Leonardo Carvalho faces the challenge of achieving a third consecutive title in front of their home fans.

Most of the coaches are optimistic about their chances in the tournament divided in four pools of four teams each to play two round-robin stages in the process towards the medals’ phase.
Here follows the excerpts of their statements on the eve of the start of the competition:

Juan Manuel Cichello (Argentina): “I think our team is a good team. We are going to fight for every point in every match to get to the second round. I am really happy to be here at another world championship. This is a great opportunity for these young people. It is a great experience to compete with the best players in the world.”

Steven Vanmedegael (Belgium): “I hope we can qualify for the next round. For us, that is the most important step. It will be tough because all the teams are good. We hope we will succeed for the first three games.”

Leonardo Carvalho (Brazil): “I think that it is of great pride to be able to play in a World Championship in Brazil. The expectations are big about our performance so it is a huge responsibility. When we play abroad we have to adjust to different times and food so it is an advantage to play at home with the fans in our favor. To win a third consecutive title is both a challenge and a dream. It will be of great satisfaction if we can accomplish that goal.”

Nikolai Zhelyazkov (Bulgaria): “We qualified in the toughest pool of Europe where our team defeated two of the strongest sides like France and Poland. We also played in the finals of the European Championship, so it’s normal to have high expectations for this tournament. We prepared and trained very hard and also have a good balance at the different positions.”

Georges Laplante (Canada): “We’re hoping to be competitive against all the teams in our pool. I think there are some good teams from Europe. We saw them play a little bit. All the teams are good. We hope to go to the second round. I think all the teams in our pool feel the same way.”

Mohamed Ellakany (Egypt): “We are in a very tough pool with two strong teams like Russia and India, while Germany is also a difficult opponent. Our hopes are always to win but being realistic, a second or third place looks more logical. Our chances suffered a lot by the loss of two key players due to injuries like Koteb Ahmad, who’s the best player in Africa, due to a shoulder surgery and Elmehady who is experiencing back problems.”

Steward Bernard (Germany): “Being in a World Championship I expect very good teams and a high level tournament with good level of skills. In a country that has won so many Olympic Games and World Championships I hope to perform here in Brazil. It is very nice to play in a country with such long history in volleyball. As a team we will try to give the best possible performance.”

M.H. Kumara (India): “Our goal is to improve from the fourth place of the previous championship which means we are hopeful of winning a medal. We want to win the first match against Germany and also have a good chance against Egypt. Our team is a lot better than the one that played in 2009 so we are psychologically prepared to take the next step.”

Jovica Cvetkovic (Iran): “It is a very strong tournament. I think we have a chance to play for a medal. Most of our team played in the 2009 Youth World Championships in Italy. We think it is very quality tournament with very good players.  I believe there will be very, very good volleyball.”

Noriaki Sato (Japan): “Japan is not a very tall team so we have to give priority to our defense and I hope our defense can lead us to get victories. We are in a very tough pool playing against Brazil which is looking for a third title in a row, Bulgaria which played in the European Finals and USA, the champion of NORCECA. Japan doesn’t have a medal since a silver 22 years ago and we hope to win one here.”

Carlos Rodriguez (Puerto Rico): “We hope we are going to play in a manner to reach the next step. We expect at least to be in the first two of our pool. Of course, it will be a good competition as we played against Argentina and Canada in the Pan American Cup so we know they are good. It is a tough pool but there is nothing impossible.”

Sergey Shlyapnikov (Russia): “Every new championship brings new tactics of the game and new combination of plays. All the teams are in our same situation. It is very hard to analyze our pool since we don’t have any information about two of the teams like India and Egypt. Regarding our chances of winning the tournament I only can say that we are training and working very hard.”

Milan Zarkovic (Serbia): “Taking into consideration that this is the last competition for generation of 90-91, all the teams are coming here to give the best of themselves. We are also here to do that. And we are ready to fulfill our task.”

Francisco Hervas (Spain): “I think the competition is going to be great. This is a marvelous age for the players who will show the possibilities for the future. We are very excited to be here in Brazil where volleyball is part of the culture. We hope to do our best.”

Mounir Gara Mohamed (Tunisia): “Our team finished sixth at the 2009 Youth World Championships. But we have a problem. All the players had to finish their exams (to advance) from secondary school to university, so we started training a little later. All the players are very tired from the exams. We are here to defend our position and to play good matches.”

John Hawks IV (United States): “The expectations of USA are to come to this tournament to represent our country well by playing good volleyball. We qualified in NORCECA versus some very good teams and I expect the teams we play to provide us a huge challenge. It will be good to be the first team from our country to claim a medal at this event and our goal, without questions, is to win the gold.”


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