Young Lions set the bar high for home World Champs qualifier
2017 FIVB U21 Men Volleyball World Championship - European Qualification
Sofia, Bulgaria, January 5, 2017. This coming weekend Hristo Botev sports hall in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia will play host to the first international tournament of the New Year – a first-round qualifier to the 2017 FIVB Men’s U21 Volleyball World Championship starring the national teams of Bulgaria, France and Denmark.
The ‘young Lions’ from Bulgaria have a new coach – former national team player Nikolay Jeliazkov has replaced Vladimir Nikolov at the helm of the team. Last year Bulgaria finished eighth in the Final Round of the U20 European Championship they contested on home soil in Varna and Plovdiv. Bulgaria and France were assigned to the same preliminary pool in that tournament – with the hosts eventually emerging victorious after a match lasting for five sets. Jeliazkov expects another close match with France this coming weekend.
“They have a very good team with good players, and some are on the roster of strong clubs in France, so I expect a difficult match between two teams that can play at the same level,” Jeliazkov said.
The last time Bulgaria played Denmark was in January 2015 when this same group of players took on the Danes in a qualification tournament to the U19 European Championship which was held at Hristo Botev sports hall as well. Bulgaria won that match 3-1 as both teams eventually qualified to the Final Round held in Kocaeli and Sakarya, Turkey.
“Some people underestimate Denmark but I do not share their view,” Jeliazkov added. “In my opinion they have good players too. Denmark are a dangerous opponent and we must prepare in the best way for this match as well. They achieved some good results lately, so we are going to have an interesting tournament these coming days,” he said.
“Our main goal is to win this tournament and move on to the second round of qualifications, to a group including 2016 U20 European silver medallists Ukraine. We really want to qualify and compete at the World Championship. I know it will be tough but we are ready to fight. I believe in my players and in their skills,” Jeliazkov concluded.
Bulgaria and France will open the programme of the tournament on Friday, January 6 with all matches set to start at 15:00 local time.