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Portugal looking for new start against Czechs in World League

Portugal coach Hugo Silva
 Lausanne, Switzerland, May 28, 2014 – Portugal have been training hard since Tuesday at the Pavilhão Desportivo Municipal at Póvoa de Varzim, the venue for their games against the Czech Republic on Saturday and Sunday in the FIVB World League.  

Zdenek Smejkal’s Czech team qualified directly for the finals of the European Championship after topping Pool D, but the Portuguese, guided by Hugo Silva, finished second in Pool B and will now face Slovenia in a playoff.  

Portugal’s 11th appearance in the World League will have to be without some of the players who took part in the European qualifiers. Hugo Gaspar has been dismissed and André Lopes has opted out for “personal and family reasons.”  

Silva says the World League will be an opportunity to renew the team: “Miguel Rodrigues did well for us in the European qualifiers and Joao Oliveira has a great opportunity to prove himself. I think the World League will be very important for him and help him to grow.

“However, these changes have not influenced our objectives. The mind-set must always be to win and must always be present in the form of ideas and the work of the technical team and the players. We are talking about Portugal, a team who have prestige and a name to uphold, and we will do everything to honour our country.  

“Of course, we have to be realistic and we will be playing the competition with players who did not even play for their clubs, a situation that I do not understand, but these players have value for us. However, we are also aware that we are undergoing a process that takes time. Difficulties will present themselves, but I believe the World League will help narrow them down and our game will evolve to what we want.”  

The Czech Republic will present strong opposition and they will be feeling good about themselves after qualifying for the 2015 European Championship.  

“It’s not going to be easy,” Silva admits. “They topped their pool with only one loss. From the games we saw, they are an excellent team and will be looking to go far in the World League. Together with the Netherlands, I think they will be the toughest team in our group.  

“They are strong at serving and it was precisely this aspect we had difficulties with in games against Finland. The Czechs have a similar service, but I believe that with the work we have done we can overcome these difficulties and negate what we consider to be one of the strongest points of the Czech Republic. Obviously they have other weapons, one of which is their height, so they have more reach in attack and we need strong blocking.”


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