To repeat the success of 2013: Sergey Shlyapnikov to try to conquer World League in Kazan

To repeat the success of 2013: Sergey Shlyapnikov to try to conquer World League in Kazan Photo: fivb.org

The World Volleyball League that Kazan got instead of Surgut did not seem to be a burden that nobody expected. This city already met such forums. Many acting characters of the this tournament already saw the Kazan hospitability and organisation during the 2013 Universiade. New head coach Sergey Shlyapnikov who already won in Kazan in 2013 will have to go through a test. Realnoe Vremya tells what else the coaches of Russia, Argentina, France and Bulgaria talked about.

''We know possibilities of veterans well. The task is to prepare the young''

New head coach of the Russian volleyball team Sergey Shlyapnikov claimed he would rejuvenate the team right after he occupied the vacant seat. However, Shlyapnikov already proved he knows how to work with the young with his job with the national team of ''students''. It seems we have never seen so many new names in the squad because we got used to Vladimir Alekno:

''I am glad that the All-Russian Volleyball Federation chose Kazan to host home matches of the World League. The atmosphere is always favourable,'' Sergey Shlyapnikov started. ''I witnessed the organisation of big sports events in this city when I was at the Universiade with the team. Today not all the people whom we would like to see managed to join the national team, for instance, young Poletaev and Savin are injured. In this competition, we decided to look at the second team and let experienced players whose potential is well known for us have a rest. Now it is difficult to speak about the team's game style. I would like to see a mixture of Asian defensive and Russian athletic volleyball in the future. The times when we were leaders near the net have passed. Now we need to improve all the game elements. One or two are not enough to win.

Sergey Shlyapnikov: ''Now it is difficult to speak about the team's game style. I would like to see a mixture of Asian defensive and Russian athletic volleyball in the future.'' Photo: zenit-kazan.com

It is your first high-level competition. Are you excited?

I already played with teams in front of such stands. But it was less important, of course. We played in the world championship with 15,000 spectators. We played in Brazil in 2011. And we won, there also were 12,000. The initial working excitement is part of our job. Excitement is present – it is fine. It would be bad if it were not. We are working, preparing, examining materials. At the moment, many of our players did not have an opportunity to meet such players. So there will be a serious test for our players. In the World League, we want to check candidates to the national team of Russia for the next Olympic cycle. The potential of Maksim Mikhailov, Artyom Volvich and Sergey Grankin are well known for us. Our task is to bring the young up to date. We need to create the psychology of winners in them, not to be the crowd on the court. We are going to fight for every set, every ball.

Do you worry about libero? Why? You already won the qualifying tournament in Tallinn.

We can be satisfied with the result of last games. We showed a necessary result to reach the World Cup. But it doesn't mean we are satisfied with the game. We gathered within 3 days. Is it possible to make a team for 3 days? I am not satisfied with many game elements, of course, including the work of the players as libero. Moreover, Yermakov left to receive treatment. And we took Zelenkov who showed quite good percentages during the championship as second libero. The problem is that he played in a team that had not played in European cups. He doesn't have international experience. Game will show. This problem remains for a while.

Was not Aleksey Spiridonov invited to the national team of Russia? He played earlier.

We talked to Aleksey about it. We got his assent first that he would play with us. But they finished the play-off early. Understand me correctly, it is very difficult to keep in good shape until 14 May. He says he would like to help the team if he were in good shape. But he won't be able to help because there will be a long break. Anyway, we are criticised that we took veterans for selection. I can't understand you. Some people say that we should not take veterans, others say the contrary. Younger players are in sight. But it was his decision.

Plamen Konstantinov: The conditions here are excellent. I am sure the tournament will be interesting. It will be curious to look at the teams that changed after the Olympics because all the teams are making changes now and adding the young to the squad.'' Photo: orenvolley.ru

Bulgaria: through Kazan to world championship at home

This year coach of the national team of Bulgaria Plamen Konstantinov who perfectly understood and even answered journalists' questions in Russian fluently served as interpreter with a bit of humour. However, joking apart, for the Bulgarians, this World League is to be the most responsible tournament before the world championship at home. So thanks to the easy linguistic contact and upcoming world cup, Konstantinov became second in terms of interest by the media.

Kazan is a volleyball city. I am always glad to be back here and play in the national team. The conditions here are excellent. I am sure the tournament will be interesting. It will be curious to look at the teams that changed after the Olympics because all the teams are making changes now and adding the young to the squad. It will also be interesting to look at the rivals and compare our level with theirs. We hope we will play well. Now we need to achieve a result. The schedule of games will be a problem for all the European teams: the final of the World League will be late at night and that of the European Championship – too early. It is good to reach the World League final, of course. But we also need to prepare for Europe. The players need to get used to playing under pressure and expecting a result. They will improve only this way.

The World League is an especial tournament for you. You will host the World Championship next year. Does the team have special tasks?

I think it is already late to bet on a result there. We need to play to achieve a result right here. I think the World League final is very late, and the World Championship in August starts too early. It is good to reach the final, of course. But how to assume games then? In what shape? I think we need to pay attention to this stage. If we reach it, we will need to look whom to field and who needs to have a rest. But we need to prepare the team for sure. They need to play under pressure and achieve a certain result.

Laurent Tillie: ''The national of France will be a mixture of young and experienced players. I hope this tournament will help us to stabilise our game and reach another level.'' Photo: volleyball.ua

''It is more difficult with those who have bad players''

The French team that has brought up just a gigantic victorious army within 5 years is the most decorated club (apart from the host team, of course) among those who came to Kazan to this World League. However, like the Russians, France decided to send young fighters designed to substitute injured leaders, for instance, French star Earvin Ngapeth did not arrive in Kazan.

Our goal is to reach the World League final despite the absence of leading players because of injuries: Ngapeth, Tillie and others. In this competition, the national of France will be a mixture of young and experienced players. I hope this tournament will help us to stabilise our game and reach another level. Our young players need to gain experience because talent is not enough to play successfully.

What do you think about the decision to finally switch the World League to Kazan? You probably prepared for Surgut with another time zone.

We worked in Italy – we trained in Napoli for a week. There is not any difference, no matter whether it is 2 hours more or 2 hours less.

Velasco, you worked with different national teams. But you achieved the greatest success with Italy. Where was it more difficult and easier to work?

It is more difficult with those who have bad players. It is easier where players play well.

The French coach left the press conference to go with his team for training.

By Erik Dobrolyubov