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30/06/2016 22:32
Teams all equally eager to seize European League crown
2016 CEV Volleyball European League - Men

Varna, Bulgaria, June 30, 2016. A press conference was organised on Thursday in Varna on the eve of the 2016 CEV Volleyball European League – Men Final Four that will be taking place on Friday and Saturday at the Palace of Culture and Sport in the Bulgarian seaside resort. The coaches and captains of all participating teams were in attendance, with the exception of Austria whose journey to Varna was partly disrupted following the terror attacks that shocked Turkey and the world’s public opinion on Tuesday night. On Friday the 2015 silver medallists from the Former Y.R. of Macedonia open the programme of the Final Four playing Austria at 15:00 before hosts Bulgaria take on Estonia in the second semi-final starting at 18:00 local time (CET+1).

Zarko Ristoski, head coach of the Former Y.R. of Macedonia, said: “Before the start of the group stage we were the outsiders but after the first tournament we contested here in Varna and the matches that followed in Skopje we showed our potential and also our big desire to achieve something big in the European League this season. I’m happy with the fact that for the third year in a row we are in the Final Four. This is a big success for us and obviously a great result. In the semi-finals we will play against Austria, a team which we already defeated four times in the last two years. I know them very well. This is a team with two really strong players who are currently the second and third best scorer in the league. But our team is well-prepared, our team is ready. I expect that we can do well. The favourites in the tournament are Estonia and Bulgaria, we are not the favourites, but I believe in my players, in their skills and be sure – we will use all of the chances we will have during the Finals. This Macedonian team has a lot more to show!”  

Team captain Nikola Gjorgiev, who scored as many as 178 points in the six matches played in the League Round, added: “I’m so happy to be here again! We feel like at home here in Varna. Tomorrow we will have a tough match against Austria. They are a good team. This game will be difficult from a psychological standpoint because we start as the pre-favourites after sweeping six matches in a row in the League Round whilst they already have two losses. In the Final Four you have no favourites. All teams are well prepared and have their chances. Our team is young and doesn’t have that much experience but we are ready. It will be a tough and nervous match but I expect to win and to qualify for the final where everything is possible.”

Estonia coach Gheorghe Cretu said: “First of all, I think that all teams are here to win. It doesn’t matter what happened in the group stage. For sure we are ‘hot’, because last year we lost to Macedonia 0-3 in the semis, even after winning ten matches in a row in the League Round. The Final Four is completely different from the group matches. And we feel ready for these games. We know that it will be tough. All opponents are well-prepared and it doesn’t matter which team we get to play first. Every game here will be difficult and I expect a tough match tomorrow against Bulgaria.”

Estonia team captain Kert Toobal: “It’s nice to be here. Yesterday we had a long trip and we also had a long wait in Istanbul. We arrived in Varna at 3:00 in the morning, but I hope all my teammates will be fresh for tomorrow. We still have some time to get better. We are well prepared. We had a really nice group stage, but at the moment it doesn’t count at all. All teams here start from scratch. All of them are equally strong. Tomorrow we will face Bulgaria. It will be tough and it’s normal because they want to win, and we want to win too. We will do our best and I hope it will be enough for us to qualify to the final.”  

Bulgarian head coach Miroslav Zhivkov: “We have a young team but this can be our biggest weapon! The young players are ambitious and well-motivated to show what they can do. On the other hand, they don’t have enough experience and our mission will be difficult from a mental standpoint, especially as they have to perform at the very best of their abilities for the whole game and especially in the key moments, when the pressure will be mounting. I want to congratulate all the teams which have made it to the Final Four. During the League Round all teams showed wonderful Volleyball and achieved great wins to deserve their spot here. I expect interesting games between strong teams. I hope our young players will show their best face and will have enough self-confidence to build on in the match against Estonia, which is a good team with good players on all positions.”

Bulgarian team captain Velizar Chernokozhev concluded: “Our team is young but our desire to achieve victories against big teams is bigger than anything else! We will show our maximum! We will do everything to win. For us it is very important to win this semi-final. We must win against Estonia and it does not really matter how we play. We can play horrible Volleyball, but the most important thing is the final result. We want to play in the final and to win the European League. So this is our main goal in this Final Four.”

Click here for more info including a detailed match programme

News nr. 9 of 28
01/07/2016 16:47:00
Unstoppable Gjorgiev helps Former Y.R. of Macedonia qualify to second straight #EuroLeagueM gold medal match
30/06/2016 17:44:00
All set for men’s European League Final Four in Varna

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