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06/01/2020 18:15
All teams eager to grab their chance in Apeldoorn
CEV Tokyo Volleyball European Qualification 2020 - Women

Apeldoorn, Netherlands, January 6, 2020.  With the women’s CEV European Olympic qualification tournament set to get underway in Apeldoorn on Tuesday, representatives of the eight national teams to contend the single available visa for the Tokyo 2020 Games met with representatives of the media at the Omnisport hall on Monday to discuss their expectations of the upcoming event.

Vasif Talibov, coach of Azerbaijan: “There was not too much time to prepare. We have some players playing abroad, and they had to fly in from far away. For example, Polina Rahimova plays in Brazil. We had a short time to prepare, but we will try to bring our best game.”

Ivan Petkov, coach of Bulgaria: “It is normal that we still have things to work on, given the short time we had for preparation, but what is more important is to talk about the motivation, the desire and the ambition of our players. As a team, we have our dreams and we have the mindset, so we will give our best during the days we are in the Netherlands. Teamwork will be our strongest weapon in Apeldoorn.”

Elitsa Vasileva, captain of Bulgaria: “One out of eight – this is our chance to play at Tokyo. It is the same for all the other teams. We have played in this line-up for quite some time now, so we just needed these few days of preparation to find back our synergies and adjust back to our system. I think we managed to achieve it.”

Giovanni Caprara, coach of the Netherlands: “Our supporters can help the team during the match, so for sure it is a big advantage and we are happy to play at home, here at this sports hall. In 10 days of preparation it’s impossible to change anything, but my goal was only to get all the players relaxed, in good shape and ready to fight... And I’m sure that they are ready.”

Maret Balkestein-Grothues, captain of the Netherlands: “The training in Germany went really well. We played with 15 players instead of 14 because we weren’t sure if Celeste (Plak) could play with us, but she can, which is great because she is an amazing player. The home crowd in Apeldoorn gives us extra energy, not pressure.”

Agnieszka Kakolewska, captain of Poland: “The preparation was short, but all the teams had more or less the same amount of time. But we are ready. We played two friendly games against Azerbaijan and won those games, so we can feel positive about this tournament.”

Gert Van de Broek, coach of Belgium: “We are satisfied with our preparation. After a busy summer, we got together at the end of December. We trained very well, we played two good matches against Turkey... Our first mini goal is to beat Germany. We haven’t done it since 2013. There are four teams in the world we couldn’t beat between 2013 and now, and these are China, Brazil, USA and Germany. Then we will look ahead to the other matches...”

Daniele Santarelli, coach of Croatia: “We are here and we have one possibility to compete for a big ticket to the Olympic Games. We know the level here is incredible. Eight great teams have come here and want to take this ticket. The expectations from us are not so high and this is important, because we will play without pressure. It is not simple to play after this short period of practice and preparation (we only played some friendly matches with Bulgaria), but we want to play our best and reach for this ticket. It’s important!”

Samanta Fabris, captain of Croatia: “Sure it’s going to be tough. We may be the underdog of this tournament and we know the level is really high here, but at the European Championship we showed that we can play on a high level. We are here, we will try to show our best, fight for every set and we will see what we are ready for...”

Felix Koslowski, coach of Germany: “For every team it’s a challenge to prepare in such a short period of time for such an important tournament, but we’re all in the same boat. We had very good conditions in Germany. We played with the Netherlands to understand what we still needed to do in the last two or three days of preparation. I think our team is ready and really hungry to take the spot at the Olympics, even though we know that this tournament is like a high-quality European Championship. The Netherlands and Turkey are the two big favourites, but all other teams are on the same level and can beat the favourites on a good day, so it’s a very, very interesting and unpredictable tournament.”

Denise Hanke, captain of Germany: “Every team in our pool is good and able to win against any other team. Both pools are not easy to play and, if I could choose, I am not sure which one I would choose to play in. But I am super happy that we are ready to start. Against Turkey, we have nothing to lose. We can just try to bring our hearts on the court and fight like we always do, and maybe we have a chance to go to the semis.”

Giovanni Guidetti, coach of Turkey: “I think for sure we are in the toughest pool, not only in terms of ranking, but also of the quality of the teams. Germany is very strong now. They were a young team, but they have grown and gained a lot of experience. Croatia was already difficult for us to win against in Ankara. And Belgium is a team that, if you don’t play at your maximum, you cannot win against. They are very strong and always push very hard. All these matches will be difficult, but you cannot go to the Olympics by winning easy matches. They have to be difficult and we have to be strong.”

Eda Erdem Dündar, captain of Turkey: “We are feeling OK. We had enough time to prepare. Of course, we are not in the best shape, but over the last 15 days we worked really hard and focused on our goal. Everybody is looking forward to tomorrow’s opening game. We know it’s going to be difficult – eight great teams and only one will qualify. Of course, this gives us pressure, but at the same time we are excited with a really good feeling and we just can’t wait to start.”

For further information, visit the official event website

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