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18/07/2017 18:52
Heynen sees Germany as favourites for sole ticket to 2018 Men’s Worlds
2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Men

Kortrijk, Belgium, July 18, 2017. From Wednesday until Sunday six teams will be fighting in Kortrijk (Belgium) for one place to compete at next year’s FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship in Italy and Bulgaria. Belgium’s Red Dragons enjoy the home-court advantage and as a result, they start the tournament with an extra bit of confidence. However, their coach Vital Heynen does not share that same view. “Of course, if we organise the tournament, that means that we try to seize our chance to qualify. However, there are three, four teams capable of making it to the World Championship. For me, Germany are the big favourites and Estonia a very dangerous outsider.”

That doesn’t mean the Belgian team is not ready. “After the World League games in Antwerp, our players received 10 days of rest and that was necessary after the long trips to Serbia and Iran, and the nine matches we played in three weeks. My conclusion after the World League was that our attack was as good as that of our opponents, but that we needed more efforts in block-defence. We could practice extremely well both in Maaseik and in Roeselare, and after the last practice I was really impressed with the improvement shown by my players. However, a practice is of course something else than playing five matches in a row.”

“We will try to start as good as we can against Slovakia and Belarus, Spain will perhaps already be a bit more difficult, but for us the key games are against Germany and Estonia on Saturday and Sunday,” Heynen explained while addressing the media in Kortrijk.

“Of course, we want to compete at the World Championship, but so does Germany, the team that finished third in 2014 when I was coaching them. They have to defend that place and many points in the World Ranking. It is also important for them to get money from their own federation for the future and thus, they need results. When I was the coach of Germany, I only lost one game against Belgium… in Kortrijk! Even if this team is probably playing without Georg Grözer and Jochen Schöps, they will be extra motivated against us. It is different than working with a club; when you are with the national team, you spend days and days together and so I know all the guys and they know me very well too. After five years you are a group.”

How strong is Belgium? “Of course we like it to play before our own fans; in the World League we beat USA and lost 2-3 to Canada, i.e. the teams that finished fourth and third at the World League Finals in Brazil. That means we are not so far from the level of the top teams. The difference is probably on the mental side. In the important moments, we have to be sharper. We need this kind of games to grow as a team.”

Belgium captain Sam Deroo is also convinced of the strength of his team. “We enjoyed seeing each other again after a short break. The group spirit is excellent, but we don’t forget that the other participating teams were also the numbers two of their groups in the previous round of qualifications. The World Championship is also a source of precious points for the World Ranking. I was there at the previous championship, which was extremely well organised in Poland, and I will be there in 2018 as well. It should be good also for the further development of our group.”

The final word was as usual for coach Vital Heynen. “It is a bit a pity that in Kortrijk four strong teams have to fight for one place to compete at the World Championship while Australia has only to win from Chinese Taipei, and China must only win from Qatar or Kazakhstan. However, we know this is the system and the way it works.”

Click here for further information including a detailed match schedule

News nr. 6 of 25
19/07/2017 22:49:00
Spain stun Germany as Red Dragons rout Slovakia on Day 1 in Kortrijk
13/06/2017 12:31:00
Belgium to host third, final round of European qualifications to men’s Worlds

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