By Farrokh Hesabi

Volleyball expert defends Vladimir Alekno’s performance

June 20, 2021 - 15:40

TEHRAN - Head coach of the Saipa volleyball team, Naser Shahnazi, opined about Iran national team’s below-par performance in the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Men's Nations League (VNL).

Shahnazi insisted that Russian head coach, Vladimir Alekno, has considered the 2021 VNL as a preparation phase for the 2020 Olympic Games.

“The national team’s results at this tournament could arouse a lot of criticism against Aleckno’s side. However, the Russian coach had already emphasized that he wanted to know his players and give young players a chance to gain experience,” the Iranian expert said.

Iran have lost seven matches in the Nations League so far and now sit in 11th place of the 16-team standings. The Persians have not registered a win since beating the U.S. on Week 3. Since then, Vladimir Alekno’s men have lost to Serbia, Germany, Australia, Brazil, and Slovenia.

“In a normal situation, we should not lose many of these games, such as the matches against Germany, Japan, Australia, etc. But the point is that Alekno has recently started his work in Iran and the ultimate goal is to prepare for the Olympic Games. So, the results are not considered important, and he should not come under criticism.

“However, there are some concerning issues regarding the team. After five or six games, it seems that Alekno found the main lineup of his side, and after that, he gave little opportunity to other players to play. A paradox lies in the heart of what the head coach had said about giving a chance to all players and what he is doing about relying on only a few specific players,” Shahnazi added.

Milad Ebadipour, the experienced spiker of the Iran national team, has been the target of much of the blame in the tournament due to his sub-par display.

“It is not right to criticize one player. Milad has always worked hard for our national team and has been one of the best players in recent years. His level of performance is not just his fault, but it’s also related to the coach and the team's tactics. We need a ready and fresh Milad Ebadipour in the Olympics, and the head coach must help him.” Shahnazi concluded.

The Iranian men's squad will play a 15-match preliminary round until June 23. The top four countries advance to the semifinals and finals.

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