Tampere, Finland, June 29, 2016 – Pool I2 hosts Finland will take on Group 2 leaders Canada, Finals hosts Portugal and Cuba in Tampere in FIVB Volleyball World League week three. And Finland coach Tuomas Sammelvuo believes his players are able to cause an upset.
Canada are undefeated in Group 2 and will be favourites to progress to the Finals in Portugal where three teams will join the hosts in Matosinhos from July 9 to 10.
“We are preparing to Rio and rotating the guys in team," said coach Glenn Hoag on Thursday. "We still have 15 players who compete for the 12 places in the Olympic team. We have already played a lot of matches this year including very difficult Olympic Qualification tournament. Of course we want to play also in the Final Four in Portugal.”
Finland are fourth with four wins, on the same number of points as third-placed Netherlands.
Finland have played well so far losing only to hosts Japan in Osaka and second-placed Turkey in Cairo. Sammelvuo is satisfied with his young team, which now has an excellent opportunity to shine in its last three Preliminary Round matches in front of the blue-white Finnish fans in Tampere.
“We have an absolutely wonderful spirit in the team and everybody tries to do their best on every ball. The players have a passion to grow and develop every day,” said Sammelvuo.
“It is very nice to have a chance to play in front of our home crowd. I am sure that they will get something that they will remember, feelings and emotions, energy for their own lives.”
“Of course we have very good opponents. Cuba and Canada are preparing for the Olympics in Rio and Portugal are a powerful team, although they have not won many matches in this year’s World League. We will try to do our best in this tournament and on Sunday we will see the result.
“Of course we have to be very satisfied to the matches we have played. It has much to do how we work and live with the team. This gives every individual in team possibilities to grow. I hope much of this weekend on our home ground.”
Drawing comparisons with recent events at the 2016 UEFA European Championship, Sammelvuo added: “Think about what Iceland has done in football which shows that a small nation can also get success in major competitions. Success is a result of the hard work that you do well every day.”
For Cuba coach Rodolfo Sanchez, the trip to Finland has reminded him of when he was a player.
“I played in Finland back in 1993 also in the World League matches," he explained. "It was a nice experience; I remember the light nights of the summer. I hope we get also now good experiences here. In this World League we have played four five-setters, lost two and won two. We have a young team and we try to improve our game all the time going to the Olympics.”
Portugal have the benefit of having their place in the finals guaranteed, so coach Francisco Santos is focused on improving before then.
“Our primary goal is the Final Four tournament in our home country," he said "The team is basically the same team as last year and it’s growing gradually better and better, tournament after tournament. Also here in Tampere I believe we can play better again.”