Sofia, Bulgaria, April 1, 2014. On the eve of the qualification tournaments for the 2014 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship - Men and the 2014 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship - Women, Bulgaria has appointed new head coaches for its junior national teams.
Legendary player Nikolay Jeliazkov, former Bulgarian international and Best Blocker of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, is returning as the mentor of the U20 men’s team. He was in charge of the Lion Cubs when they claimed the silver medals from the 2010 CEV Junior European Championship in Belarus.
Jeliazkov’s coaching career went on through several men’s teams, including Italy’s Caffé Aiello CORIGLIANO, Bulgaria’s Victoria Volley PLOVDIV and Russia’s Yaroslavich YAROSLAVL, as well as the national team of (FYR of) Macedonia.
Bulgaria is hosting 2nd Round Qualification Pool F, entertaining the U20 national teams of the Netherlands, Greece and England at the Hristo Botev volleyball hall in Sofia from April 25 through 27. The winner of the pool will qualify for the Final Round to take place in the end of the summer in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, while the runner-up will move on to the 3rd Round of qualifications in July.
Nikolay Jeliazkov and his assistant Georgi Petrov have named 24 players on their extended roster for the start of the preparations, but as some of them are still involved in the domestic men’s league playoffs, they will be joining the national team on a later date.
“Our first goal is to qualify directly to the European Championship finals,” Jeliazkov announced. “There is a difficult tournament ahead of us, so we need to put in a lot of hard work. There is a great potential in our team, but everybody needs to do his best. We have little time to prepare, but we will do everything possible to be ready.”
Bulgaria’s U19 women’s national team has also been placed in the hands of a well-known name. The Bulgarian Volleyball Federation has appointed Petar Dochev as the new head coach of the young Lionesses. As a player, Dochev was a member of the Bulgarian national squad, which won the 1991 FIVB Junior Men’s World Championship in Egypt – to this date the only world championship title the Southern European country has ever claimed in any team sport. Currently, Dochev is also coaching the Bulgarian women’s team of KAZANLAK Volley, having previously in his career been the mentor of Switzerland’s Volero ZURICH, the Bulgarian men’s teams of Kaliakra KAVARNA and MONTANA, as well as assistant coach of the Bulgarian women’s national team and the women’s team of CSKA-Demax SOFIA.
In his new position as the head coach of the U19 women’s national team, Petar Dochev will be assisted by Desislava Bankova and Iliyana Petkova. They have started their preparation with 19 players on their extended roster, anticipating friendly games with the national team of Romania on April 16, 17 and 18 before the start of the European Championship qualifications. Bulgaria will host the matches in 2nd Round Pool F, joined by the teams of Russia, Azerbaijan and Austria from April 24 through 26 at the Samokov competition hall. Similar to the formula in the men’s qualifications, only the pool winner will qualify directly for the Final Round in Estonia and Finland in August, while the runner-up will move on to the 3rd Round of qualifications in July.