New U23 age group gives Iran surprise chance
Despite what he admits is a tough pool, he points to a pair of recent victories against Russia on the way to victory in Kazakhstan's Presidential Cup that has given his team plenty of confidence.
"My group is very strong, but my team is also strong," Akbari said. "My idea is that maybe Iran can win the competition, to take a medal, and first is better. If we want to take a result, we must be very good."
Iran's squad contains a majority of the players that finished sixth at the 2011 U21 World Championships in Rio de Janeiro and Akbari says the team has matured since then and the U23 agegroup has been a factor in that development.
"The distance is huge between the junior and senior [levels], and this is a good opportunity to show the ability for this age. Some players after the junior team need time for training before they go to the senior team, if they don't maybe some players finish [playing] volleyball. So for the future it's very good."
Iran recently claimed a 3-0 win against Australia during the Copa Ciudad de Moron in Argentina, and Akbari hopes his team can repeat the victory when they meet at the Presidente Tancredo Neves Arena during the opening round of matches in Uberlandia.