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Portugal coach Silva cautious of Czechs' power ahead of World League meeting

 
Portugal and the Czech Republic have never met in the World League; they last played in 2011 at the European Championships when the Czech Republic beat Portugal 3-2 in the group stage
 
 Porto, Portugal, May 30, 2014 – Despite changes to their line-up, Portugal is still confident ahead of their important opening FIVB Volleyball World League matches against the Czech Republic on Saturday and Sunday at the Pavilhão Desportivo Municipal of Póvoa de Varzim.

It is the first time the two sides will meet in a World League match. Both teams enter the match on the back of their second round of qualification for the 2015 CEV European Championships, with slightly different results. The Czech Republic coached by Zdenek Smejkal, won Pool D and qualified directly to the final, while Portugal, coached by Hugo Silva, were ranked second in their pool, and will have to play a playoff match against Slovenia in May next year.

In their 11th appearance in the World League, Portugal maintain a strong ambition to perform well despite some changes to the team. 

“The changes were established from the start taking into consideration some questions that some of the players [Andre Lopes and Hugo Gaspar] raised regarding the national team workouts and this has ended up with the renewal that we are going through,” Silva said. “Miguel Rodrigues (setter) proved to be an asset for us in the European qualifiers and Joao Oliveira will have a great opportunity. I’m convinced that the World League will be a very important moment for him, because he will certainly grow and get the jump he needs.”

While Portugal is taking part in the World League for the 11th time, for the Czech Republic it is only their second after finishing fourth in 2003. After the Czechs’ performance in the European Championship qualifying, Silva is not taking any chances.

“For the matches we’ve seen, they are an excellent team,” he said. “They have four players in their line-up who are serving very strong, very heavy, but I believe that we can counter a little what we consider to be one of their stronger points. Obviously, they have other weapons – being a taller team they have a higher reach in the attack – but we’ll have to stop them in the block.”





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