If Germany qualifies for the Beijing Games it will be for the first time in 36 years the team will be competing in Volleyball at the Olympics.
The last time they competed was at the Munich Olympics of 1972, when the East Germany team claimed second and West Germany team finished 11th.
The only previous appearance before that was in 1968 when the East Germans finished fourth in Mexico.
Out to spoil the dreams of the hosts of the Düsseldorf World Olympic Qualification Tournament are Cuba, Spain and Chinese Taipei.
German Head Coach Stelian Moculescu knows he has a tough task ahead of him and will be hoping his players will be on form. Most of the German team play their Club Volleyball outside of their home country in Italy Russia, Greece, Turkey and Poland.
The German team’s strength is balance but that’s not to say the team is without stars. Middle blocker Stefan Hübner of Italy’s Treviso, opposites Christian Pampel of VfB Friedrichshafen and Jochen Schöps of Russia’s Odintsovo and outside hitter Björn Andrae of Poland’s Olsztyn are the big-name players.
Moculescu’s men will hope to find the spark that gave them an excellent ninth-place finish at the 2006 FIVB World Championship.
In the tournament in Japan, the Germans beat Australia, Greece, Cuba and France in the Preliminary Round with just a loss against the mighty Brazil and sailed into the second round. There, though, their luck ran out and they lost all four games against Italy, Bulgaria, USA and Czech Republic. The Germans dug deep, however, and won their last two matches against Puerto Rico and USA.
The 2006 appearance was the Germans’ first showing at a World Championship for 12 years, when they also finished ninth in the Finals in Greece.
After 1994, the Germans disappeared from view on the world stage but returned to take 13th place in the 2001 FIVB World League and then ninth place at the 2002 and 2003 events.
They had previously taken part in the World League from 1992 to 1994 when they finished 12th, eighth, and 10th.
More recently, the Germans competed at the 2007 European Championships in Russia, somewhat making amends after failing to qualify for the 2005 event.
They beat Serbia and Greece to qualify for the second round but a loss to their Netherlands’ neighbours hit them hard and this was followed up by a defeat against Spain. They rallied with wins against Slovakia and France, though, and finished fifth, their best placing in the tournament since they took fourth in 1993.
Stelian Moculescu is a Volleyball fanatic and has been for many years now. But this characteristic describes a lot of other lovers of Volleyball, too. The native Romanian stands out from the crowd, though, because of one simple fact: he has success.
When he still was a player Moculescu celebrated numerous championships and cup victories as well as an Olympic participation in 1972 with the Romanian team, which finished 5th.
As a coach he was successful very quickly. Wherever he was, titles fell like ripe fruit. He was German champion and cup winner as coach 29 times, with 16 titles in only the last nine years.
Moculescu knows the German Volleyball scene like no other. Within the German Volleyball Federation he is well regarded. Through 1987-1990 he was responsible for the Men’s National Team.
Since 1999 he has been Head Coach for the Men’s National Team once again and led Germany to two ninth place finishes in the FIVB World League in 2002 and 2003.
His biggest goal is to play good Volleyball. “After that we have to try to reach the top,” he says.
After the German team finished ninth at the 2006 FIVB World Championship and fifth in the 2007 European Championship in Moscow, establishing themselves among the world’s elite, Moculescu now wants to achieve the highlight of his coaching career with qualification for the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008.