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Preparations pick up pace as FIVB World League just 100 days away

Argentinean-born Germany coach Raúl Lozano has said Pool D, where the team will face Cuba, Argentina and Poland, is likely to be a challenge
Lausanne, Switzerland, March 3, 2010 – With Wednesday marking just 100 days until the start of the FIVB World League on June 4, many teams are already running through preparations ahead of the 21st edition of the annual tournament.

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The FIVB officially launched the schedule of the World League on February 24 with World No. 1 Brazil beginning their defence of the FIVB World League crown against Bulgaria on June 4 in Uberlandia, Brazil.

Elsewhere, recently promoted Egypt and Germany will be taking on Finland and Poland respectively in their opening fixtures, with both new teams qualifying for the World League after coming through qualification matches at the end of last year, Germany beating Mexico and Venezuela and Egypt beating Iran and Japan.

Germany has already been busy, announcing its preliminary squad on January 28 and claiming that they fully understand the level of skill needed to beat fellow Pool D members Argentina, Cuba and Poland.

“Pool D is very strong and difficult but I wanted to play against the best teams because the German team needs to know at what level their performance is at,” German coach Raúl Lozano said. “The team needs these matches to improve their skills and prepare for the World Championship. We will try to win as many games as possible as it is important for the team's confidence.”

“I have named the squad based on my observations during the 2009 season and during the German Premier League,” said the Argentinean-born coach.

USA has already looked to put last year’s ranking of 6th behind them as nine team members attended the American Training Center in Anaheim, California on January 15 for the first training camp of the year.

“This is the fifth straight year that the U.S. Men’s Team will compete in the World League,” USA Volleyball CEO Doug Beal said. “The fan support and attendance has increased every year.”

Additionally, Poland coach Daniel Castellani has said he wants the best preparation possible for his side, which ranked 11th in last year’s competition, and has asked organisers of Poland’s PlusLiga to consider shortening their league season by a week to accommodate it.

The coach, who also led Poland to a fourth place finish at last year’s FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Japan, said that the extra time off prior to the competition will give the players more time to ready themselves for the opening stages of the tournament.

“We will do everything we can to get the team together this week (before the FIVB World League), but believe me, it won’t be easy,” Castellani said. “The schedule is very tight.”

Meanwhile, a number of World League stars also took part in Russia’s All Star Game on January 31, including Argentina’s Luciano De Cecco, Poland's Lukasz Kadziewicz, USA’s Sean Rooney and Bulgaria’s Teodor Salparov included in the All Star team and Maxim Mikhaylov, Dmitry Muserskiy, Alexey Kasakov, Sergey Grankin and Alexander Volkov in the Russian side, all of whom took part in last year’s FIVB World League.

Elsewhere, number of the Brazilian players have also revealed how they are hoping to add to last year’s success and pick up their ninth World League title.

Libero Mario, who many see as a worthy successor to the 2009 World League MVP and Brazilian legend Sergio, said he wants 2010 to be equally as good, if not better than his debut season last year.

“2009 was a great season, so this year I am already hoping we can equal last year’s achievements and even improve on them,” said Mario. “It was the year I won another title with [Brazilian club side] Cimed, then went on to be selected for Brazil before winning the World League and Grand Champions Cup in Japan.”

Furthermore, Dante, who won six FIVB World League titles with Brazil as well as two FIVB World Championships and an Olympic Games gold and silver medal in 2004 and 2008 respectively, has been speaking about the future of Volleyball for the national team.

One of the stalwarts of the Brazilian team in the last few years, Dante revealed that after taking a year away from the national side due to family reasons, he is ready to fight for his place in the team again.

“Now that [my son] is recovering, I’ll be back [in contention for the national team],” Dante said.
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