November 14, 2005 – TOKYO: The FIVB World Grand Champions Cup 2005 is about to get under way in Japan, but the head coaches of the six teams are already looking further forward.
Such as to the 2006 World Championships in Japan, and to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
From the comments of the coaches at the official press conference on Monday, the Grand Champions Cup will be used for team-building and giving young players more experience of top-level international competition.
USA’s Chinese head coach, Jenny Lang Ping, summed up the general feeling of the teams when she said: “We are very happy to be here, and this year we keep changing some players. For this tournament we have three new faces, and we got together five days ago, so we are trying to give good experience to the new players to prepare for the World Championships.
“I think the teams here are very strong, so we have the opportunity to get more experience and improve our team work.” Lang said the key to beating Cuba and qualifying for the event as NORCECA champions was to relax, but she admitted even she was surprised and still regarded Cuba as a great team.
World Grand Prix champions Brazil will be missing Final Round MVP Paula Pequeno, who is three months’ pregnant, giving the chance for head coach Jose Guimaraes to have a look at fresh talent. These include 16-year-old power spiker Natalia Pereira, who was voted MVP of Brazil’s FIVB Girls’ U-18 World Championship-winning team in Macau, China, in July.
China’s Chen Zhonghe welcomes newcomer Li Juan from the Tianjin team which won the women’s volleyball gold medal at China’s 10th National Games last month, while Shoichi Yanagimoto’s Japan should be stronger than at the World Grand Prix with the return of Kana Oyama and Saori Kimura, who were both on duty at the Athens Olympics.
Korea’s Kim Hyung Sil said his players had not been together long, as the professional league only broke on November 8, and his team was still in a transition stage with two high school players.
European champions Poland will fear no one after beating Russia and Italy to win the continental crown, and they have in their ranks Euro MVP Dorota Swieniewicz.
Head coach Andrzej Niemczyk described the Grand Champions Cup as a springboard for next year’s World Championships, but feels the balance of power in Europe and the Americas is changing rapidly.
Brazil and China will contest the opening match Tuesday at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, the first of 15 games in Tokyo and Nagoya in this fourth edition of the inter-continental challenge.