Unbeaten Serbia and Brazil ready for Belgrade battle


Viktor Yosifov, Plamen Konstantinov, Dragan Stankovic, Nikola Grbic, Bernardo Rezende, Bruno Rezende and Raul Lozano at the Press Conference in Belgrade

Belgrade, Serbia, June 23, 2016 – Brazil and Serbia are the only two teams to remain unbeaten following the opening weekend of FIVB Volleyball World League Group 1 action. But both teams are already looking to their clash in Belgrade on Thursday, while Bulgaria and Iran are both aiming for improvements in the second week of the world’s premier annual men’s volleyball tournament.

Serbia captain Dragan Stankovic said that while his side were happy with their winning start in Kaliningrad, Russia last week, it was far from what they expected.

“It was certainly a great start with three difficult matches,” he said. “If we keep up with the level and aspire to make an even better performance, I am sure that we will have excellent opportunity to show our maximum to our spectators in the hall and on TVs. We have teams that can only inspire and motivate us to play even better, such as is the first match with Brazil and we look forward to a good result here.”

Coach Nikola Grbic added that replicating that success will be a huge task. 

“The Brazilian team is well known and famous,” he said. “They are always in the Finals and show spectacular game. We will try to play with same motivation and same energy, but it will not be easy. I am sure it will be a good match and may the better one win”

Bruno “Bruninho” Rezende was adamant, however, that Serbia have a good chance at victory, with the Brazil captain full of nothing but praise for the side.

“Serbia started very good and showed how well they play,” he said. “They are a good team with good coach. We had a long trip from Brazil and hope we will succeed to be in our good form until Thursday for the match. 

“It will be a great test and great challenge for us, but we also have to think about the goal after the World League and that is the Olympic Tournament in Rio. We will do our best and play our best in the matches this weekend”

“We are always happy to play in Serbia with great spectators and great cheering,” added Brazil coach Bernardo “Bernardinho” Rezende. “These are important matches with three excellent teams that play different volleyball styles. We knew it would be a difficult tournament, but that is why we will try to play the best possible and gain as many points as possible. In 2015 we played four times against Serbia and it will be hard as they have come with the young team that has gained experience in the past year and play very well.

Bulgaria began their campaign with three losses, and captain Viktor Yosifov knows that his side must do better should they want to turn their luck around.

“Our first weekend was not as good as we wanted it to be, but this will be an opportunity to show our game and gain some points. I sincerely hope we will do much better” he said.

Coach Plamen Konstantinov echoed his captain’s thoughts, adding that the side should not let the opportunity to play some of the world’s top teams pass them by.

“This is an excellent opportunity for our young team to acquire experience and grow preparing for the new four-year Olympic cycle,” he explained. “In the past three matches, our players lacked experience. So, we hope to play much, much better than we played in Russia and, as we are not playing any home matches, we will consider playing in Belgrade as playing at home.”

Iran had an equally tough weekend, with two losses and one narrow victory over Argentina. For coach Raul Lozano, it is all about development.

“For me it is the development through improvement that we are trying to achieve,” he said. “Maybe we will not qualify for the Finals in Krakow, but we will try our best to prepare our team for the challenge in Rio. 

“We played the first weekend against the teams that are among four top ranked in the world and this weekend ones among the top 10. I am sure that for each team in Rio it will be the form which will be reached until then. For us, the most important thing will be to play well and if we qualify, it will be great, but priority lays in Rio.”


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