2019 VNL: Iran to face strong Italy

May 29, 2019 - 17:30

TEHRAN - Iran will take on Italy in Pool 1 of the men’s 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League at the Jiangmen Sports Center Gym in Jiangmen, China on Friday.

Iran, Italy, Germany and hosts China will try to score their first points in the run towards the spots at the final six tournament in Chicago, playing against each other in one of the four pools of the first competition weekend from May 31 through June 2.

Interestingly, three of the four teams finished the 2018 preliminary round practically “holding hands” in the final standings. Italy finished eighth with eight wins, followed by Germany and Iran in ninth and tenth, respectively, with seven wins each. All of them missed out on advancing to the finals in Lille, but showed their potential to succeed in an intensive competition.

Iran are certainly keen on performing at a higher level than last year and producing better results than their 10th place in the 2018 VNL and 13th place at the World Championship.

 Experienced players like Mir Saeid Marouf, Amir Ghafour, Mohammad Mousavi and Farhad Ghaemi, have been training hard alongside a fresh flow of young athletes at the national team preparation camp, with more star volleyballers expected to join as their club season duties come to an end.

Montenegrin coach Igor Kolakovic has expressed his satisfaction that “the team is already in a better physical condition than last year; the VNL is a very attractive and difficult competition and Iran will give their best.”

Italy have the upper hand and much more confidence against Iran since the Azzurri have won five of their last six encounters with Iran at world level major competitions. The only exception in this run was a 3-2 defeat at the 2017 Grand Champions Cup, fivb.com reported.

Iran (8th) are the highest ranked Asian team on the FIVB World Ranking coming into the 2019 Volleyball Nations League, while Italy are the highest ranked European team on the FIVB World Ranking in third place.

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