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Japan has what it takes to go for gold

The Japanese team during training at Baskent Hall in Ankara
Ankara, Turkey, August 21, 2013 – Both the team captain and the coach of Japan have made it clear that they have their eyes on the gold medals at the upcoming FIVB Men's U21 World Championship in Turkey.  However, the team’s mentor Noriaki Sako will cautiously approach this ambitious goal on a match-by-match basis.
Japan has never made it to the top of the final ranking in the history of the competition, but they do have one silver medal from the 1989 championship in Greece.  Two years ago, in Brazil, the east Asian team finished 12th, while the current generation of players could not even make it to the Finals of the 2011 Boys’ Youth World Championship in Argentina.
But the team has been preparing diligently for the championship in Turkey and had some special training camps where they put the emphasis on blocking and digging.  They played four friendly matches in Italy where they lost to the home team and to Brazil and they defeated each other once with the national team of Argentina.
So coach Sako prefers to focus only on the first game of the team in Ankara – against Mexico on Thursday afternoon.  ”We are only thinking about our first match.  It is very important and we are working to be in good condition for it,” he said.  ”When we win the first match, then we will try to win one more, and then one more, and so on, all the way to the gold medal,” somewhat jokingly he added.
But to team captain Masahiro Sekita this does not seem to be a joke: ”Our team is here to get a medal.  We are striving for the first place, because we want the gold.  We have the motivation, the passion and everything else it takes to go to the top.” 

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