Belgium to challenge hosts France for sole ticket to World Champs
2013 FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship - European Qualification
Saint-Jean d’Illac, France, May 10, 2013. France and Belgium will be playing on Saturday the last and also deciding game of the tournament where a ticket is at stake to make it to the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship scheduled for late August in Ankara and Izmir, Turkey. The winner of this much anticipated clash will claim that pass and join there the hosts of Turkey, the 2012 European champions of Italy plus the sides finishing atop of the charts in the other qualification tournaments running this week in Russia, Serbia and Bulgaria. Belgium prolonged on Thursday their winning streak by cruising past Poland with the score of 3:1 (27-25, 25-21, 13-25, and 25-21).
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The match finally corresponded to the prediction made by the young head coach of Team Belgium, Steven Vanmedegael, who had expected a “tough game”. After going up 2:0 in sets, Belgium did lose composure especially in defense making mistakes and paving the way with gold for Poland that claimed the third set with the massive score of 25-13. “My players showed some problems in reception but I wasn’t too worried. It is normal that this happens because they have spent only 10 days together to prepare for this tournament” Vanmedegael said after the match. However, they were able to find back their best play in the fourth set cruising to a 25-21 that shaped up a well deserved 3:1 win. François Lecat top scored in the end with 20 points while Poland’s Maciej Muzaj paced his side in their losing effort with 26. “We need to rest now and get ready for the deciding match with France” the Belgian mentor says. “France has a very good and talented team. As they play before their fans, they could have a little advantage. However, this is going to be an extremely interesting game” he adds.
“My players have been preparing – also mentally – very good for this game” France’s head coach Stéphane Faure stresses at the end of a rest day for the home side where his guys watched from the stands the game starring Belgium and Poland. “They are ready to fight. Belgium is a very good team, very balanced and we are expecting a tough and close game”.
In the other match of the day whose result was nevertheless not going to impact much on the final standing of the group, Portugal claimed their first win in the tournament by routing Latvia in three straight sets (25-14, 25-21, and 25-19) in just 68 minutes of play. This was the last game of the week for Portugal while Latvia will complete their campaign on Saturday testing out the likes of Poland which is already out of contention for a ticket to the World Championship.