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Serbia and Slovenia stand the best chance to win World Champs qualifier

The head coaches of Portugal, F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia pose shortly before the start of the World Champs qualifier taking place this weekend in the Serbian city of Nis
Nis, Serbia, January 3, 2014 – The coaches of the four teams set to compete throughout this weekend at the Cair sports hall in the city of Nis could share their expectations after attending the technical meeting held on Thursday night at the Tami Residence.

The hosts and European bronze medalists of Serbia will play the F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Portugal and Slovenia for a spot in the Final Round of the 2014 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship. “We are the clear-cut favorites of this tournament and we are playing at home but nevertheless we must be very careful,” says Serbia’s mentor Igor Kolakovic. “This is a very important tournament and the result of one game may impact on the final standing and the qualification to the World Champs. We already lost matches to these opponents in the past and we have to perform our best if we want to secure our participation in the World Championship.”

“I called up 16 players for the start of our preparations but only 9 showed up initially,” recalls the head coach of the F.Y.R. of Macedonia Zarko Ristoski. “Another two joined the group later on. Unfortunately, we are missing five key players who were with the team last year. Some more players fell sick and so we had many problems while trying to get ready for this tournament. These are very unfortunate circumstances for us but we will be trying to perform our best under these conditions.”

“Slovenia has never participated in the Final Round of the World Championship and I think that time has come to achieve this feat,” adds head coach Luka Slabe. “Last year we beat Serbia at the CEV Volleyball European Championship in Denmark. There are teams here that stand at our same level but if we perform well against these opponents, we stand a chance to make it to the Worlds.”

“This is a very difficult tournament for us,” concludes Portugal’s mentor Hugo Gaspar. “If we can finish at least second at the end that would be a big boost for us. Of course, Serbia and Slovenia are the favorites going into this competition.”

The tournament will get started on Friday afternoon with Portugal playing Slovenia and Serbia taking on their neighbors from the F.Y.R. of Macedonia.

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