Coaches' comments prior to World League start

 Toronto, Canada, May 17, 2012Canada marks its return to FIVB World League action this week by hosting the opening stop in tournament play.  The matches will take place at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

Canada is in a tough pool with world number-one Brazil, number-four Poland – both countries are London bound – and Finland which stands at number-27.  Canada is at number-18. 

Last week, Canada competed at the NORCECA Olympic qualifier in Long Beach, California and lost in the final to defending Games champion the U.S.  Only the tournament winner earned a ticket to the Games.

 Here are some comments from the head coaches on the eve of the tournament.

‘’The World League is a great opportunity for us,’’ said Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag of Gatineau, Que.  ‘’I really like the pool we are in.  This is exactly what we need right now.  We need to play these strong teams.’’

Superpower Brazil, ranked number-one in the world, has won the seven of the last nine World League titles but is still stinging from last year’s loss in the final to Russia.

‘’Our preparation has just started and we’ve had to deal with injuries as well,’’ said Brazil’s head coach Bernardinho.  ‘’We have a tough pool and we are a bit worried that we are not as prepared as we would like to be. We just want to go step by step and peak in time for the big events in July and August.’’

Poland is ranked fourth in the world and reached the podium for the first time in its history in World League play last season placing third and was runner-up at the World Cup.

‘’It’s going to be hard for us to be in the final with this tough pool but we are going to try,’’ said Poland’s head coach Andrea Anastasi.  ‘’We had a great year in 2011 and we are coming back this year with the same team.  We hope we can make a good run here.’’

Finland returns to the World League after a 10th place finish last season.  The biggest news for the Finns is that regular head coach Daniel Castellani is not at this stop due to visa issues and is being replaced by national junior team coach Pekka Lahtinen.

‘’I’ve only been with team for two days but our training sessions have been very good so far,’’ said Lahtinen.  ‘’Most of the players have gone through our junior program so I know them well which makes the transition easier.  We have a good mix of veterans and young players and we are going to play hard.’’

The schedule for the World League Toronto stop is as follows:  on Friday, Canada vs Finland at 4 p.m. (eastern time in Canada) and Brazil vs Poland at 8 p.m. ; on Saturday, Canada vs Brazil at 4 p.m. and Poland vs Finland at 8 p.m.; and on Sunday, Brazil vs Finland at 4 p.m. and Canada vs Poland at 8 p.m.