Stars align in Belo Horizonte for Men's Club World Championship
Belo Horizonte, Brazil, May 4, 2014 – For six days, Belo Horizonte will be the meeting point for some of the brightest volleyball stars in the world, which will be taking on each other at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship, which starts on Monday. Russian Olympic hero Dmitry Muserskiy, Bulgaria’s Matey Kaziyski, Germany’s György Grozer or Yoandy Leal from Cuba are only a few of the awesome players that will converge on Brazilian soil.
Defending champion Sada Cruzeiro from Brazil chose a well-known roster in an effort to retain their crown. Led by captain William Arjona, who has proved to be one of the most creative setters in the world, the home team also includes impressive spiker and last year’s MVP Wallace De Souza alongside middle-blockers Eder Carbonera and Isac Santos, a pair familiar from the Brazilian men's national team. Cuba’s Yoandy Leal will also contribute to the Brazilian Superliga champions campaign with his athleticism and power.
Leal will meet with some former teammates from Cuba’s national team, in an unexpected move from wildcard Al-Rayyan. Qatar’s club have been reinforced in a last minute call with superb middle-blocker Robertlandy Simón, MVP at the 2009 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup in Japan, after he just failed on reaching the league final in Italy with Copra Elior Piacenza. The team also secured the Cuban opposite Michael Sánchez, who featured for his national squad between 2007 and 2009 and last played for Korean club side Air Jumbos.
However, that’s not all for Al-Rayyan, who are looking to improve on their fifth place finish from their only other FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship appearance in 2012. Four-time Club World Championship winners Matey Kaziyski from Bulgaria and Brazil’s Raphael Vieira de Oliveira are joining the team for the 2014 edition. Both moved away from that amazing roster of Trentino to Turkey’s Halkbank, but when they lost the European Champions League final to Belogorie Belgorod, Al-Rayyan focused on obtaining their services.
Belgorod made its way to the European crown with an outstanding group of players, combining the big guns of several national teams. The local element appears in captain Taras Khtey, volleyball legend Sergey Tetyukhin, spiker Dmitriy Ilinykh and giant Dmitriy Muserskiy, all four of them being Olympic gold medalists with Russia in London 2012. Besides that, Belgorod added the firepower of German opposite György Grozer and the brains and talent of Italian setter Dragan Travica.
With such powerful teams, it won’t be easy for Trentino to climb back to the world’s top spot. The Italian side still has the glare of that golden era in captain Emanuele Birarelli, who was part of the four titles, and also in Bulgaria’s Tsvetan Sokolov and local libero Massimo Colaci, both with three gold medals apiece. Completing the side are USA’s Donald Suxho, Portugal’s Alex Ferreira and Argentinean young talent Sebastián Solé.
On what comes from Argentina, local four-time champion UPCN from San Juan province will carry the flag, with Olympian Theo Lopes from Brazil and four players recently summoned by famous coach Julio Velasco to the national team: Javier Filardi, Demián González, Martín Ramos and Sebastián Garrocq. Something similar happens in Guaynabo Mets, a side that includes six players from the Puerto Rican team, with setter Ángel Pérez and captain Enrique Escalante on top of the list.
Esperance Tunis, which stands as the second Tunisian team to make it into the Club World Championship, has seven current national team players, as a proof that they will show the country’s best in Belo Horizonte, led by Russia’s Alexander Sorokoletov, the only outsider in the roster. In contrast, Matin Varamin from Iran is the only team exclusively represented by local players, but has a foreign component in Italian coach Daniele Bagnoli.