The captains and coaches of Portugal, Slovakia, Japan and Australia
Poprad, Slovakia, May 31, 2017 - The coaches and captains of Japan, Australia, Portugal and home team Slovakia met at a press conference two days before the FIVB Volleyball World League Group 2 Pool 2 tournament in Poprad.
Portugal captain Alexandre Ferreira said: "We had just one week of preparation before the World Championships qualification in Slovenia. We came here directly from Ljublana and I think we are in better shape, because we played five difficult matches there. We are ready for the World League and we are looking forward to it. We are here in Slovakia four good teams and everybody wants to win. Australia is already qualified as organiser of the Group 2 Finals, but I am sure that they will do their best."
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Portugal coach Hugo Silva said: "I think this group is very balanced; all the teams are on almost the same level. We expect difficult matches. Our team is growing match by match. I believe in my team, my players never turn away from responsibility and they will fight all the way."
Slovakia captain Emanuel Kohut said: "We are very happy that we can play again at home in front of our fans. We want to show them good volleyball. We hope that we will be successful in our confrontations with these three strong teams and our goal is to win as many games as possible."
Slovakia coach Andrej Kravarik said: "We have the first step of the World League ahead of us after a very difficult World Championships qualification. All the teams here in Poprad are on a similar level, but our goal is to take maximum nine points from this tournament. I think that our team is able to do that. We are focused on the first match against Japan. I hope our fans will see interesting matches here. It will be also my first match as a head coach and I am looking forward to that."
Phillipe Blain, who is temporarily standing in for head coach Yuichi Nakagaichi, said: "Here will be my first official match with Japan. We started just ten days ago and we played two friendly matches in Italy. We are trying to create something new, because our long-term project is the Olympics in Tokyo 2020. But each competition match is one step to grow our team. We will try to get the best result. Any plan needs victories to have a positive athosphere. That´s why we are here."
Japan captain Hideomi Fukatsu said: "We are heading to Tokyo 2020, but every year and every match is very important for us. We have prepared for the World League and we are really excited to start. We will try to win as many games as possible."
Australia coach Mark Lebedew said: "I agree that all teams from Group 2 are on a similar level and every match will be tough. I am really looking forward to battles with these teams. I can´t guarantee three wins, because we are not at home, but I am looking forward to a great weekend. I hope that the fans will come and enjoy the games."
Australia captain Paul Carroll said: "Thanks to Slovakia for hosting us. It is awesome to be in this country, because I have played with many Slovakians in my career and all of them are great guys. Our goal in the first of three weeks is to find consistency, get some wins and prepare in the best way for the Finals in Gold Coast. It will be a challenging weekend, maybe Slovakia and Portugal have a small advantage, because they played competitive matches before the World League, but I hope that we will show good volleyball here."