Kazakhstan bring in experience for World Grand Prix opening weekend in Almaty
Kazakhstan will open their fifth World Grand Prix campaign as they face Australia in the 12.00 GMT (18.00 local time) encounter on Friday.
In Thursday’s press conference ahead of Pool P competition, Kazakhstan’s coach Oleksandr Gutor shared that he will bank on his team’s experience amidst a highly competitive pool in Almaty.
“We will play in a strong group, with the Czech Republic and Croatia. But we are also a strong team because we played with Cuba and Brazil last year in the World Grand Prix.”
Meanwhile, the debutants from Oceania stay unfazed as they brace for their opening match against the home team, and even after a Finals appearance for the Australian men at the FIVB Volleyball World League.
“What we take from that is that anytime, you can play well, and good things can happen,” said a hopeful Australia Coach Mark Barnard.
Earlier on Friday, the Czech Republic face Croatia at 09.00 GMT (15.00 local).
The Czech Republic finished 14th in their debut season at the 2013 World Grand Prix and will look to vastly improve on that result.
Carlo Parisi, coach of the Czech squad, is proud to gain this new experience as groundwork for greater achievements, with the World Championship season in sight.
“Our goal is to reach the Final Four. I know this is a hard tournament but we will try to play in Bulgaria,” said Parisi.
Croatia are likewise making their first World Grand Prix appearance.
“The team can start step-by-step. It is important to know that the players understand the level of competition. The next step is to try to play in the next group,” said Croatia coach Angelo Vercesi.
Croatia and Australia join Belgium, Kenya and Mexico as the five debutants in this year’s historic edition of the World Grand Prix, where 28 teams play in three groups.
Jumping from the 20-team format in 2013 to a record of 28 teams in 2014, the World Grand Prix takes the lead from the World League. The increase in participants is seen as a remarkable competition opportunity for both accomplished and debuting teams.