Portugal goes up against Japan in Pool C
Porto, Portugal, June 27, 2013 – Portugal faces Japan in two FIVB World League matches this weekend with both teams hoping to rise up the standings in Pool C.
Despite a bad World League start for Japan, the team is coming off two surprising victories against Finland. The Portuguese team, meanwhile, has won three out of six and is looking to pick up two more victories.
“We have to win both matches,” said Portugal coach Flavio Gulinelli. “Until now, we did the least we could have done – that is we won one match each weekend. Now we are playing at home and want to win both matches and at the same time present the Portuguese public with a good display of volleyball. I believe that this will be a reality since our team is already in good condition and the Japanese team is motivated.”
“Japan has a team that is growing,” Gulinelli continued. “In comparison to European teams, oriental teams are not as physical and concentrate more on technical aspects. They are very patient, waiting for opponents’ errors on the block, and base their game around the quality of their defence and reception.”
Japan coach Gary Sato defined concrete goals for his team’s 20th year of participating in the World League.
“Our goal for this weekend is to maintain the victory path that was initiated with the triumphs over Finland,” he said. “We know that it will be very difficult since the Portuguese team is very strong and is playing well. I believe it will be two very balanced matches and I hope that in the end the victory may fall to our side.”
Sato, a former assistant coach for the U.S. men's team who is making his debut as head coach of the Japanese team in this year’s World League, is well aware of the responsibility that rests on his shoulders.
“Japan’s ambition is to win the pool, but we are realists and we know that at this moment that goal is very difficult to attain,” he said. “We want to do well in the World League because it’s very important for Japanese volleyball. The evaluation I make of my work coaching Japan is very positive. It’s a long-term job since we are preparing the team to aim at qualification for the next Olympic Games and I have noticed a very acceptable and gradual growth of the players and the team. It’s a great honour to be able to coach Japan, since for the first time the head coach isn’t Japanese and that’s a great challenge for me.”
The first match between Portugal and Japan will be held Saturday at 19:00 at the “Multiusos de Guimarães” in Portugal’s European City of Sport 2013.