Russian Karikov lauds his talented players
The event, for the first time with the participation of 20 teams representing the five continents, kicks off on Thursday in the cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico.
While praising the overall talent of the team he will be handling during the competition, Karikov high-touted the athletic ability of star players like Victor Poletaev and Pavel Pankov, both whom he considers the best players in Europe at this age-group category.
“Poletaev was the Most Valuable Player of the last European Boys Championship when Russia won the title for the fifth time,” Karikov said. “He is a terrific player with great leap and heavy attack and to me he is the best in Europe among players of his age.”
The 1.97m Poletaev, who turns 18 next month, scored a match-high 25 points to lead the Russian victory over Poland at the title match in four sets.
Karikov remarked that his squad is young but the players have had the experience of competing against a very strong opposition during the European tournament.
“I collected my players seven months ago and have been practicing very hard, first for the European Championship and then for this event,” he said.
“I don’t want to talk about goals but of the quality of my team and the experience we have gone through,” he added. “Besides Poletaev, I also have the best server in Europe in my number 11 player, (Pavel) Pankov”.
Russia is competing in Pool C of the 20-team tournament along with Asian Champions Iran, Finland, France and Rwanda. In the history of the event, they have twice won the gold in 1999 in Saudi Arabia and 2005 in Algeria.