Hosts Canada emerge as favourites in Edmonton
Hosts Canada, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico will play to earn a berth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The competition winners will qualify automatically. The second placed team from the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament will get another chance to qualify for the Summer Games in Brazil at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament which will take place in May or June. The third placed team from the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament will also get another chance to qualify for Rio at the second World Olympic Qualification Tournament also to be held in May or June.
Canada, currently ranked No. 10 in the world and playing at home, are considered as pre-tournament favourites but stiff competition is expected from the sides from Cuba (15th), Puerto Rico (22th) and Mexico (24th). The United States, the major power in the NORCECA region, are already qualified for Rio as the winners of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup.
The four teams competing in Edmonton were determined by the top four positions from the NORCECA Men’s Continental Tournament held in Monterrey, Mexico last October. Canada won their first ever title at the zonal biennial competition by defeating Cuba 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 25-18, 25-17). Puerto Rico defeated Mexico in straight sets for the bronze medal.
The victory at the continental tournament was part of a successful year for the team coached by Glenn Hoag as the Canadian men also claimed the crown at the NORCECA Champions Cup, a four-team qualifier to the World Cup held in Detroit, USA last May, capped by a sensational five-set seesaw triumph over hosts United States 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 21-25, 25-21, 17-15). Cuba defeated Mexico in straight sets for the third position.
The Canadians also finished with a bronze medal at home during the volleyball tournament of the Pan American Games held in Toronto in July with a 3-1 (25-11, 25-12, 23-25, 25-18) win over Puerto Rico. They were also the best positioned team of NORCECA at the annual Men’s Pan American Cup in Reno, USA in August with a fourth place behind Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.
All the matches will be streamed at www.cbc.ca while Saturday’s match between Canada and Puerto Rico will be live on national television on CBC.
Match schedule (in local time)
17.00 Canada v Mexico
19.00 Cuba v Puerto Rico
13.30 Canada v Puerto Rico
16.00 Cuba v Mexico
17.00 Puerto Rico v Mexico
19.00 Canada v Cuba