Lausanne, Switzerland, August 19, 2020 – Brazil’s head coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes still has ten months to decide which 12 players will represent the country at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, but it seems he has already identified some of the athletes who will make the trip to the Japanese capital in 2021.
Asked to reveal which players were guaranteed a place in the Brazilian roster for the Tokyo Olympics, the three-time Olympic champion coach included outside hitters Gabi Guimaraes and Natalia Pereira and opposite Tandara Caixeta, barring injury.
“Gabi is one of the best passers in the world right now,” said Ze Roberto, speaking to the Brazilian Federation’s Youtube channel. “Her passing rate in the Turkish League was over 80 per cent, which is really impressive, and when you have a player performing so well at the international level, she’s certainly part of your team.
“Natalia and Tandara, too, are players who have showed what they can do at the international level and they will certainly be in Tokyo if they are healthy and in good form.”
Gabi’s passing ability is a skill highly appreciated by Zé Roberto
The Brazilian coach also mentioned 33-year-old middle-blocker Thaisa Menezes as one of the key players he would like to have in the team. The situation involving the two-time Olympic champion is a little more complex, though, as she hasn’t been with the national team since the 2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championships.
One of the best players of the last edition of the Brazilian Superliga, Thaisa hasn’t closed the doors to a national team comeback, but she has repeatedly said she will only make a decision about it at the end of the next club season, which she will play with Itambe Minas.
“Thaisa is someone I’d really love to be part of the team,” Ze Roberto added. “She has recovered from a really serious knee injury and had a wonderful club season in the Superliga. Minas has taken great care of her and she’s in great form and physically very strong. In my opinion, she’s the best middle blocker in the world, so I’d obviously love to have her.”
Deciding the roster for the Olympics, Ze Roberto explained, is an ongoing process. While in some positions the importance of specific players is evident, in others there is tough competition for the spots during the entire four years that lead to the next Olympics.
Going into his seventh edition of the Olympics as a head coach, the 66-year-old Brazilian knows how to navigate the process and takes each step one at a time.
“There are some players who are more obvious as they’ve been with the team for some years and have been playing key roles for us,” the Brazilian coach added. “But it’s very difficult to get to the final selection of 12 names that go to the Olympics. I start with a larger list with 60 players or so and go from there. There are always openings for players who do well in their clubs and show they can have a big impact in the national team, so the next months will be important regarding the final decisions I still need to make. Hopefully the players who are already on our radar remain healthy and perform well and the ones who might not be on our shortlist right now play well enough to become viable options.”
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