Silvano Prandi during Monday's press conference in Sofia
Sofia, Bulgaria, April 9, 2019 – The men’s national team of Bulgaria will get together on May 6 to start preparations for the new season, which is to get underway with the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League on May 31, the Lions’ new head coach, Silvano Prandi, announced at a press conference held in Sofia on Monday.
The Italian specialist takes over the team for a second time in his career. During his first period (2009 - 2010) as head coach of Bulgaria, Prandi led them to the bronze medal at the 2009 European Championship. Now the main goal set in front of him by the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation is to get the Lions qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and he feels that the VNL is an important experience for the players before the Olympic qualifications in August.
Silvano Prandi as head coach of Bulgaria during the 2010 FIVB World League
Prandi said that he is very thankful for this new opportunity and glad to work in Bulgaria again. “It is both a great pleasure and a great responsibility for me. I know we will have many challenges in 2019 and I look forward to this adventure. I am sorry I don’t speak the language, although they often call me ‘half-Bulgarian’ because in my career I have learned from so many great Bulgarian mentors, such as Georgi Cholov, Dimitar Karov, Dimitar Zlatanov…”
Prandi commented on the roster of players he intends to use this summer and the name that stands out is that of former captain Todor Aleksiev, who is likely to return to the team. Top-level opposite Tsvetan Sokolov, who skipped the 2018 season due to injury, is also coming back to lead the Bulgarian attack. While no actual list of players has been finalized yet, the coach mentioned the names of several young athletes he would like to see on the squad, alongside other experienced volleyballers, such as Viktor Yosifov, Nikolay Nikolov, Svetoslav Gotsev, Georgi Bratoev, Teodor Salparov, etc.
As coach of France’s Chaumont VB 52 HM in a Champions League quarterfinal match, Prandi instructs 22-year-old Martin Atanasov, whom he will rely on in the Bulgarian national team as well
Another former captain of Bulgaria, setter Andrey Zhekov, was invited to join Prandi’s staff as assistant coach. “He is an important part of the national team’s history and, if he accepts, he could be very useful,” Silvano Prandi said. The rest of his staff will be a mix of Bulgarian and Italian specialists.
The first tests for Prandi’s group of players will be in a couple of friendly matches against Serbia, scheduled to take place on May 24 and 25. On May 27, the Bulgarian team will take off for Mendoza, where they will face Canada, host Argentina and Portugal, in that order, in their first three games of the 2019 VNL on May 31, June 1 and June 2.