Portugal only thinking about victory
Porto, Portugal, May 31, 2013 – Portugal have got only one thing on their minds when they start their 2013 FIVB World League campaign with two matches away to Finland in Helsinki and that is victory.
Portugal finished last in 16th place in 2012 and know that they will need a strong start if they are to improve on that performance.
“In volleyball either you win or you lose and I don’t know anyone that likes to lose,” head coach Flavio Gulinelli said. “Without disrespecting our opponent, we’re here to win both matches.
“It’s important to start winning right from the beginning and then improve our game week after week. My philosophy has always been the same; think about the team rather than the individuals, because when we win, we win as a team with all players contributing.
“We’re building a young team around more experienced players, such as Andre Lopes, Nuno Pinheiro and Joao Jose, who is a role model for the other players. I believe that we’re already in the right condition to play well.”
Portugal have qualified for the previous two World League final stages having failed to qualify for any of the tournaments from 2006 to 2010.
It is the third time that the teams have been drawn in the same group after being paired together in 2006 and 2011. Overall Finland hold sway in World League meetings between the two sides, having won five to Portugal’s three.
In Helsinki Gulinelli will face a figure he has come up against a number of times in his career. Tomas Sammelvup previously made his name as the Finnish team captain, but has moved seamlessly to take on the job as head coach.
“I know Tomas well and our relationship is the same as the one when worked together at Vibo (in the Italian League),” Gulinelli said. “He will definitively be a good coach. He’s still very young and he can be patient about winning…at least for another week.”
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.Click here for more information on the World League