Men’s World Grand Champions Cup to serve as springboard for Tokyo 2020
The coaches of the six teams participating in the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Grand Champions Cup - France, Brazil, USA, Japan, Italy and Iran.
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At the press conference held at the Nagoya Kanko Hotel on Monday, coaches shared their thoughts on the impact of their performance at the World Grand Champions Cup on the development of their respective teams.
France will make their debut in the competition, following their triumph at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball World League in Curitiba, Brazil. Laurent Tillie wants to continue France’s great start in the first year of the Olympic cycle.
“The World Grand Champions Cup is a very important tournament for France because we want to win a ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” Tillie said. “We’re proud to be able to play in this competition. It’s also important both because it’s the first competition in the new Olympic cycle and to help the younger players integrate into the team. Some of our players are injured, so we have a young team, but we will do our best.”
Iran will play in their third consecutive edition of the World Grand Champions Cup and will aim for a podium finish. Serbian mentor Igor Kolakovic sees the competition with the five other squads as a challenge and opportunity for his players.
“It’s a big challenge and opportunity to play against the strong teams in this tournament,” coach Kolakovic said. “It’s also an opportunity for us to learn something more about volleyball. If you think about the Olympic Games in Tokyo, I can say it will be a test for our players and our team for the future.”
One team that knows how to win at the World Grand Champions Cup is Brazil. After four top podium and two runner-up finishes, Brazil are still the team to beat at the competition. The South Americans’ recent achievements were the gold medal victory at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the silver medal finish at the 2017 World League. With seven of their Rio 2016 players in the current roster, coach Renan Dal Zotto has the advantage on experience, but he is more keen on the competition’s influence on the team’s development for the new cycle.
“For Brazil, it’s an important competition as it’s the first major competition since Rio 2016,” Dal Zotto said. “We have seven players carried over from our Olympic team, but it’s a new cycle and we also have some new members on our coaching staff. They work hard to do what’s best for the team and its future so in that sense it’s great to be taking part in this competition. It’s a new challenge with a new generation of players in a new cycle. It’s an important competition for out next target, which is a spot in Tokyo 2020.”
USA also have Rio 2016 Olympians in their line-up to help the younger players transition to the new cycle, and coach John Speraw is looking for his best combination of players on the court.
“This is the first competition in the quad, so it’s going to be interesting for us,” Speraw said. “Some key members from the Olympic Games are returning but we’re also adding some new players with great potential. I think this tournament is going to help us learn a little bit more about our team. This will give us a great opportunity to be pushed by some great teams to try and learn more about what the best USA team we can put on the court.”
Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blengini talked about the revamp in their line-up, introducing some fresh talent to the international field.
“The Italian team has changed since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but we have a great opportunity to play against the best teams in the world,” Blengini said. “It will be the first time for many players not only in this tournament, but also on the national team, so it will be important to see how we have progressed in the last four or five months. It’s especially important for us because we are playing in this fascinating country Japan where volleyball is so important.”
Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi felt privileged as a host country to compete against top-level teams and expressed his great pride in Japan's performance in the women’s event. He trusts that with that positive act, the men’s team can keep that momentum going.
“We are the host country but we are playing top-level countries, so it’s a big opportunity for us. Until yesterday, the women’s competition was going on and the Japanese staff and players were all excited about the performance of the women’s team, so we want to keep this momentum going for us and play as well as they did.
“There have been great changes in the team. More than half of the players are new and we have a new French coach in the team, who is doing a great job. We have three university students in the team, so it’s a very young team that came together in May this year, so I want to see what progress we have made since May and if we are heading in the right direction in terms of development. Our target is the Tokyo Olympics, so this competition is an important first step toward that goal.
The seventh edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup Open will be held from September 12 to 17, 2017 in the cities of Nagoya and Osaka in Japan.
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