Friday, 14 May 2021
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 Match info | Press Conference
Japan gave us a tough game: Zhekov

Bulgarian captain Andrey Zhekov

Bulgaria Captain Andrey Zhekov

It was a very difficult game for us and and very close. We tried to press Japan from the start but they played excellent defense.

It was really difficult to play against such a good defense.

But the important thing is we didn't stop; we continued and we're very happy that we won this game.

(Re. Need to win tomorrow) I think this is our main goal. Only if we win tomorrow can we play for first place in the group, so for us it's very important to win.

Bulgaria Coach Silvano Prandi

I'm very glad about the victory. Life is hope and I hope tomorrow we play better than today. I hope the quality of our play improves.

The game today was very good for the fans because the result was always in the balance.

But it was not good for my heart.

Our main problem for me is always our attack. We have to improve our attack. Service, defense, blocking is always difficult because Japan's defense and reception is very good. And Japan were good in attack – they are fast and difficult to block. We won 16 blocks, which is not bad, but we have to improve our attack a lot – a 44% winning attack is not good.

(Re. Replacement of Japanese setter Daisuke Usami by Yuta Abe) If the coach of Japan chose to change his setter, he did so because of a moment in play during the game. It was a difficult moment for Usami – not because the second setter is better than the first. Abe continued to play in a good situation, with good attack, good passing and setting. I like Usami. I also like Abe. They are two good setters.

Japan Captain Daisuke Usami

The way the game started was good, but the first set was the most important and the key to the whole game. But my mistakes caused us to lose the first set and that changed the balance of the whole match.

I feel very sorry about it because I wasn't able to change the mood of the team. Now, I have to cool myself down and look to play better tomorrow.

(Re. Being hit in the face by a spike). That didn't bother me a bit.

Japan No. 2, Yuta Abe

We couldn't change things after we lost points. My combination with Shimizu wasn't good but Fukuzawa did his best to earn points. I tried to get the main attackers to attack from any position and I tried to attack down the center.

Japan Coach Tatsuya Ueta

Japan self-destructed today and that's obviously a big problem. Looking towards the London Olympics, I will try new players and try to raise the level of our skills.

(Re. Change of setter) In the first set, Usami had combination problems with Shimizu and our other attackers, so I changed to Abe and he started to combine well with Shimizu. But in the latter half of the match, he lost that and that's why we lost our effectiveness.

(Re. Service) It's a problem we had from the games in Toyama. I gave my players four points to think about on serve:

  1. After they have won points, it's important to change their mindset to serving mode.

  2. They have to relax.

  3. They have to look at the opposition's positions and the best places to attack.

  4. Serve without fear.

I gave this advice to my players two weeks ago, but thought there wasn't enough time for the players to react to these four points.

(Re. Players reaction) The players aren't satisfied with today's game. We have to work on our mistakes and raise our level of play.


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