Denmark to go for a miracle in Aarhus
2013 CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship - Men
Aarhus, Denmark, September 23, 2013. After their sensational win on Sunday over Belarus whereby they made the Playoffs of the 2013 CEV VELUX EuroVolley the home heroes have made the headlines all over the country and even Crown Prince Fredrik released an official statement to congratulate the team stating that they have gone well beyond everyone’s expectations. Their head coach Fred Sturm, who has been with the team for the past 10 years, even said that this success exceeded the joy he experienced back in 1992 as he was coaching USA and his guys won bronze at the Barcelona Olympics. And only 24 hours after the victory claimed by Kristian Knudsen & Co., 600 additional tickets were sold in Aarhus for the much anticipated showdown with Serbia coming up on Tuesday evening (8 pm local time) at NRGi Arena.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is that this will be a big experience for the guys. After that I hope that we can continue with the good things that happened to us during the first three matches. We have had a good preparation, which resulted in some good efforts. I hope that after the game tomorrow we can say that we had our best performance of the tournament” says Danish mentor Fred Sturm. “Serbia is a highly respected and top ranked team in Europe and has been there for many years. They are the defending European champions and we have deep respect for them. I hope that the fans will come and support the team”.
Igor Kolakovic, head coach of Serbia, said on the eve of their game with the hosts: “We have watched Denmark’s games. We know they are not one of Europe’s best teams, but we respect them and they play with great motivation. I hope our form is good, but we have a lot of young guys on the team and also pressure from being the European champions. I think the hall will be full because we play in Denmark and the beginning of the game will be very difficult because Denmark will be very motivated as they play against the reigning European champions. It is not easy for us but we hope the joy will be on our side in the end”.
Waiting for the Playoff game with the Netherlands that will prolong the legendary rivalry from the ‘90s, Italy head coach Mauro Berruto says: “We have to understand that our chances to achieve our goal in this Championship are untouched. Starting from tomorrow all matches will be a make-or-break thing for us as well as for any other team. We all know that there is much at stake and that we have to take on every single game as if it were the last of the tournament. We have to fight for every single rally; there is not much to say, but a lot to do in this competition. The four teams that people had predicted would be the hottest contenders for the medals are all playing an extra game in the Playoffs and this shows once more that the level here is extremely high. We do not have to think too much but take up all the challenges we will be confronted with on our way knowing that we have to fight bravely until the end to achieve the goals we have set before travelling to Denmark”.
Dutch mentor Edwin Benne: “We did not think we would meet Italy now and I’m surprised they were second in the group. I can live with us being number three in our group and I’m very happy we made it here and we made a narrow escape. We have great respect for Italy and they are a great team, but I don’t think Italy plays at their best level at the moment so we see possibilities and the only thing on our mind is a win. We were under huge pressure in the prelims but our team plays well with our back against the wall. The level of Volleyball here is really high and our problem has been that we could not keep that level. We nevertheless count on beating Italy tomorrow”.
As they still wait to get to know their opponent in the 1/4 finals coming up on Wednesday, Finland mentor Tuomas Sammelvuo says: “First of all we want to recover well these two days without games and take advantage of that break and get all the mental and physical energy back and prepare to play Italy or the Netherlands. This is a good situation for us and I can feel that our time has come and we are ready to do everything it takes to go to Copenhagen. It is a huge thing for us that so many of our fans follow us and now there will be a charter to the quarterfinal and this is one more advantage for us. We are not one of the big teams but with our supporters we can have something like the big teams and that is why the fans are so important for us. These Championships have already showed that the big favourites are not unbeatable and it is possible to do well in this tournament, but it is important to stay in the present. For us the goal is to go to the semi-finals and it would be an amazing result and I think it is realistic, I think the team is ready and I really believe we will make it to the Final Four”.
“We have a group of players who never give up. See what they did against Italy as they came back from 12:20 in the first set and as they dominated the scene in the tie-break after missing out on three match balls in the fourth set” Belgium head coach Dominique Baeyens says about his team that finished the prelims on top of the charts. “I have to congratulate my guys for what they have showed so far in the tournament”.
Click here for a detailed schedule of the Playoffs and visit also the official website www.eurovolley2013.dk