Florence, Italy, September 11, 2018 - Just before the start of Pool A in Florence, these are the words of Italy, Argentina, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Slovenia and Japan captains and coaches, expressed during the Media Meeting held today at Italiana Hotels in Florence.
Gianlorenzo Blengini, Italy coach: “We know most of the main national teams, not only the European ones, and they know us because many of their players play in our championship. I don’t want to talk about numerical objectives, but our intention is to improve some aspects of our play to make it better and more competitive”.
Ivan Zaytsev, Italy captain: “Right after Rome’s emotions, we’ll play in a city like Florence, which has always welcomed us in the best way. Our Pool is not so easy, many teams have an Italian style of play because of their partecipation in SuperLega, so we have to maintain our concentration. We know Belgium very well, which has grown in these years and almost won a medal at the last European Championship. We want to win without dropping a single point, so we have to do our best.”
Julio Velasco, Argentina coach: “During the last World Championship which I participated in in Italy, with the national team of Spain, the audience showed me a lot of affection. Against Italy will be a special game for sure, since I was for so many years on the bench of Azzurri and now there is a good friend of mine on it. Argentina has the objective to make it among the best teams in the world and to be consistently there."
Luciano De Cecco, Argentina captain: “I expect that my team will do its best, I think the first week of this competition will be fundamental. We hope to amaze even ourselves, we have the possibilities to step up to the next phases but we are aware that there will be many obstacles.”
Andrea Anastasi, Belgium coach: “I’m really happy and satisfied to have chosen Belgium, which have really excellent people, and to play in Italy because it’s really special for me, it wouldn’t be the same in another nation. I’m feeling really at home: talking, eating and drinking Italian is a pleasure.”
Sam Deroo, Belgium captain: “We have prepared ourselves for a long time, working hard for six, seven weeks. In the last ten days we played eight friendly matches, some with difficulties and some others where we showed great progress. I think we are ready for the World Championship now. The first match against Argentina is crucial, a direct competitor for a place among the top four in the pool, therefore we have to win to make a good start so we are really focused.”
Jose Alexander Gutierrez Sanchez, Dominican Republic coach: “For our Nation it is an honour to play a World Championship, the most important competition after the Olympic Games. We have a very young team which has to grow, but we’ll try to do our best against very good teams.”
Elvis Contrera, Dominican Republic captain: “It’s an absolutely new experience for us, since our country has not played at the World Championships for 40 years. We hope to do something good, our group has really worked hard for this tournament. Everything is well organised here, now we want to see how we stand the impact with the audience."
Slobodan Kovac, Slovenia coach: “The pool is not easy because all the teams have quality and good players. Italy has the support of all the audience as the home team, this can be an advantage. I’m satified with our preparation but we have to play hard to advance, I’ll try to explain to my players the right way to fight until the end.”
Tine Urnaut, Slovenia captain: “I think it’s a tough pool, because every team can defeat the others or be defeated, with high-level players on the court. We already lost against Japan in the past, this is the evidence that we have to play every match at our best."
Yuichi Nakagaichi, Japan coach: “I guess Pool A is one of the hardest, with the host team as the favourites. We are prepared for this moment and now we have to continue on our way, but to qualify to the second phase we have to fight hard.”
Masahiro Yanagida, Japan captain: “Our team can play high-level volleyball and I think we were good even during the inaugural match against Italy, despite the defeat. It was a good experience for us but now we have to strengthen ourselves to make it to the next round.”