Iran focusing hard on World League debut
Tehran, Iran, May 31, 2013 - The Iranian National team left the comforts of home on May 28 to head to Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, where they will begin their build-up to the 2013 World League with three friendly warm-up matches.
Iran secured an historic spot in this year’s World League after they defeated Japan in the playoff series to become the 26th country to qualify for the World League and there they will take on Russia, Italy, Cuba, Serbia and Germany in Pool B.
It has been an intense last two months for the team as they prepare for the start of the World League and coach Julio Velasco has been pushing them hard in training to raise their confidence ahead of some difficult matches.
“I am glad that there are not any injured players and we are going into the World League with a full squad,” Velasco said. “Iran is getting their first taste of the World League and ideally it will be a very good experience.
“The fact is that the World League is different from other tournaments. Teams cover a much wider distance, playing different teams home and away.”
Iran will kick-off their world league campaign in Russia with two matches against Olympic champions Russia on June 7 and 8. Then they will be back in Tehran to prepare for home matches against European champions Serbia.
“We are in pool B and all our rivals are powerful, so under in these circumstances we are thinking about playing well and gaining experience,” Velasco said.
This year the World League competition has increased from 16 to 18 teams, split into three pools of six. It is the first time the World League will feature 18 teams, having had 16 teams from 2001-2003 and 2006-2012. The competition featured eight teams in its inaugural year in 1990, 10 in 1991 and then 12 from 1992-2000 and 2004-05.
Pools A and B were determined using the serpentine system based on the world rankings as of August 13, 2012. Pool C features teams ranked as the next best four in the world rankings after the 12 teams in Pool A and B in addition to wildcards Japan and Portugal.
The top three world ranked teams in each pool will play three matches at home and two away with the bottom three world ranked teams playing twice at home and three times away. The customary World League format of two teams playing twice over the course of a weekend returns after the 2012 edition experienced change due to the congested pre-Olympic Games calendar.
The World League Finals will take place in Mar del Plata, Argentina from July 17 to 21.
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