Japan Men’s National Team starts season with new head coach, captain
"Some of the goals we have this year are to qualify for the World Championship," Sato said during a press conference May 22 with the World League squads. "Also, we would like to get a medal at the World Grand Champions Cup here in Japan, but for the immediate future, we have the World League."
Sato - who was appointed earlier this year as coach after last year's men's team failed to qualify for last year's London Olympics - is implementing fundamental changes to the team to reach those goals, including designating experienced middle-blocker Kota Yamamura as the new captain, replacing former-captain Daisuke Usami who retired last month.
"I’m not satisfied with my captaincy," Yamamura said. "There are many teammates who can take a leadership more than I. So my task is to serve as the bridge. Because of the difference in language, the communication is very important among the team. I want to become a bridge between the head coach and players. Our head coach encourages us to become independent. So we, as the team, want to improve our smartness and perform imaginative plays."
Sato has selected 47 players for Japan's team this year. Among the 47 players, 22 players were selected for the FIVB Volleyball World League.
"Japan has a very high-level technique," Sato said. "We are ready to take it to the next level. The theme for the team is 'Play Hard, Play Smart!' We’ve practiced for two days. It was very enjoyable and I saw lots of enthusiasm and improvements."
Japan's men’s team will participate in the FIVB Volleyball World League, the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship qualification, the Asian Championship, and the FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup.
The team will have a training camp by May 29 and leave Japan on May 30 to compete at the FIVB World League Intercontinental Round Pool C. Japan will play away-games in Korea (June 1 to 2) and in the Netherlands (June 8 to 9), then home-games against Finland in Komaki, Japan (June 15 to 16). After one week-off, the team will have away-games in Portugal (June 29 to 30) and home-games against Canada in Osaka, Japan (July 6 to 7). Among 6 teams in Pool C, only top team will qualify for the World League Finals which will take place in Argentina.
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