Brazil coach Ze Roberto: It has been a wonderful 10 years
Last year’s silver medallists are in sixth place with 14 points and need to finish in the top six at the end of the this weekend’s three games to ensure they advance to the World Grand Prix Finals in Sapporo, Japan, which take place from August 28 to September 1.
Ze Roberto, who has lead Brazil to five of Brazil's record eight World Grand Prix titles, said winning each and every match in Almaty is necessary to advance to the World Grand prix Finals but it is also a key part of a greater objective. “We need three victories to qualify for the finals. It is important to be on the podium, to be on the top and it’s always valuable to compete with strong opponents,” he said. “But the general plan for the upcoming games is not only winning the Grand Prix but to get ready for the Olympic Games.”
Ze Roberto’s mentorship of the Brazilian national women began in 2003 and he has helped propel the team to two-time Olympic champions and now as one of the strongest contenders for this year’s World Grand Prix title. “It has been a wonderful 10 years,” he said. He further shared that he spent the last decade mostly thinking about strategies against opponents and he is happy with how things have worked out for his team.
Brazil will strive hard to pick up their next victory against a young and eager Cuba team on Friday at 11:00 GMT (15:00 local) at the Baluan Sholak Sport and Culture Palace.
Cuba and Brazil will play each other for the 24th time in the World Grand Prix. Cuba have only played more matches against China (31) and Japan (27) while Brazil have only faced Japan (34), China (31) and Russia (25) more often.
Brazil certainly hold the upper hand against Cuba having won 17 of their previous 23 encounters, including the last eight. Only against Germany (10) and Poland (9) do they currently have a longer winning streak.
The last win for Cuba in this fixture dates back to 2004 while they have not won a single set in four of their last five World Grand Prix matches against Brazil.
Following Friday’s match, Ze Roberto’s squad will then need to win the remaining matches in the third round against the Netherlands and hosts Kazakhstan, to make sure they book a World Grand Prix Finals appearance for the 10th consecutive year.