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Czech home heroes very motivated to make Final Round of 2014 Worlds

The coaches of the teams that are set to play throughout the coming weekend in Opava; from left to right Petros Kontos (CYP), Edwin Benne (NED), Zdenek Smejkal (CZE), and Camillo Placì (BUL)
Opava, Czech Republic, January 3, 2014 – After parting ways with former head coach Stewart Bernard, the Czech men’s national team placed now under the guidance of Zdenek Smejkal will try to qualify to the Final Round of the FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship Poland 2014 via the third-round qualifier taking place throughout this weekend in Opava.

The home heroes were assigned to a very tough Pool that includes the likes of Bulgaria, the team that finished fourth at the 2012 London Olympics as well as at last year’s CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship and FIVB World League Finals, plus the Netherlands and Cyprus. However, the Czech players count on the support of their fans to make it to the Worlds scheduled for September 3-21 in Poland.

The Czechs will be playing the second match on schedule for Friday afternoon taking on the “Oranjes” while pre-favorite Bulgaria will open their campaign playing underdogs Cyprus. The Czech Republic will then play Cyprus on Saturday before the much anticipated showdown with Bulgaria coming up on Sunday that may determine the winners of the tournament. “It is extremely important that we beat the Netherlands and Cyprus, possibly without dropping a set” Czech mentor Zdenek Smejkal says. “After that we will try to play our best as we take on Bulgaria.”

The Italian-born mentor of Bulgaria Camillo Placì confirms that the goal set for his team is to win the tournament and make it to the 2014 Worlds: “It is our goal here in Opava to qualify to the Final Round of the World Championship. The first match in such a tournament is always very difficult and also the most important from my point of view.”

Though all teams did not have much time to prepare for the World Champs qualifier, Dutch head coach Edwin Benne believes that the conditions were equal for all concerned: “I think that we had a good preparation where we played four friendly matches, two with France and another two with Belgium. We have added three new players to the team and for this reason we needed to play some games before coming here. Even though we lost I think that our game and team work have improved since the start of our preparations for this qualifier. I do respect Bulgaria and also the Czech Republic, but we will do our best to qualify to the Final Round of the World Championship. We did not come here just to be part of the game.”

Cyprus is the other team competing in Opava and even though they are the underdogs on paper, their strength cannot be underestimated by their opponents.

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