After 22 years Andrea Giani returns to the venue where Italy set the foundations for their 1994 FIVB World Championship title.
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 23, 2016 – Slovenia coach Andrea Giani has returned to Thessaloniki for the first time in 22 years with his team in set to clash with Qatar, Puerto Rico and Greece in Group 3 of the FIVB Volleyball World League this weekend.
The 46-year-old played for Italy in the very same venue, the Alexandrion Sports Palace, for Italy in a 1994 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Game, heading Italy in a 3-0 (16-14, 15-6, 15-2) win against hosts Greece.
“It’s been 22 years since that tournament and I don’t I remember a lot,” said Giani as Slovenia practiced at the venue on Thursday. “I only remember the matches and the hall because the fans had created a great atmosphere.
"Of course in general it was a sweet memory because we finally went on to win the World Championship”.
But this time, Giani is here strictly on Slovenian business, and he is focused on their success.
“Last year we had a fantastic season but now we are playing for the first time in the World League and it is a new experience for us,” he said. “It is a totally different competition, we are playing against better teams but our goal is to win the tournament."
Slovenia meet hosts Greece on the closing day of the pool, Sunday. The two teams enter this weekend’s pool undefeated.
“Certainly the last match against Greece it is going to be a very difficult game. But I think that maybe both teams will have already qualified for the Final Four. But now on my mind it is only Qatar and nothing else,” said Giani, referring to Slovenia’s opening match against the Asian side on Friday.
For Giani, there’s another twist in Sunday’s match against Greece. Greece captain Mitar Djuric will be playing under Giani for Calzedonia Verona in Italy’s A1 League next season.
“I hope the best team on the court win,"said the Italian coach. "I’m going to speak with Djuric, but this situation is very common in sports."