Lausanne, Switzerland, June 20, 2013 – As we head into another World League weekend, one of Serbia’s former star players, Nikola Grbic, talks to FIVB.org about his country’s performance in the tournament so far and how he thinks they will fare in the weeks to come.
“Serbia has had an interesting few weeks in this year’s World League, winning two matches against Cuba and then losing to Russia the following week. And as Serbia prepares for the next set of Pool B matches against Iran this coming weekend, it is good to take stock of the situation.
“Serbia’s World League bid started strongly this year with two wins against Cuba. They were not easy to obtain and the team had to fight hard for each point against Cuba’s younger and less experienced team, even losing one set to them in the second match.
“The matches against Russia were completely different in nature. They are a difficult team to face in any situation and the travelling and consequent jet lag did not work in Serbia’s favour. Admittedly, the team suffered its worst defeat over the last two years as they were unable to keep up with the Russian side that played a strong game with their superior attacks.
“Defeat is always hard but it is important to learn from them and move on. And I believe that under the leadership of coach Igor Kolakovic, the Serbian team is able to do this effectively. The players must also focus on the positive and realise that they have done well gaining seven points from matches.
“I know that the Serbian team will play even better in the coming weeks. As a team they have a great deal of potential, which they showed when taking the European Championship title in 2011. Getting in more playing time will also definitely improve their game.
“Furthermore each match serves as an important team building exercise and as players spend more time together, it will help to ensure that they play more closely as a team.
“Also the last three weeks of matches against Italy and Germany will be played on home ground. It always helps to boost the players’ morale when the home crowd is cheering them on. More practically this will mean less travel and the chance to get in more practice time before their matches.
“The changes to the structure and formula of the World League this year have helped to bring more teams into the tournament than before. And while this helps to increase the spread and reach of our sport around the world, it does seem that some teams are at an advantage having to play more difficult opponents at home and not away. Nevertheless the current formula of playing the same opponent twice helps to build some excitement for the sport among fans in the host country.
“I know that Serbia will do us proud and I look
forward to seeing what they can do this weekend.”
Nikola Grbic is one of Serbia's most famous former players. Brother of another Serbia legend Vladimir, Nikola won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and a bronze medal in 1996 at Atlanta. His international honours include silver and bronze medals respectively in the 1998 and 2010 FIVB Men's World Championship, as well as gold at the 2001 European Championships.
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