Lausanne, Switzerland, June 14, 2019 – Saeid Marouf and his teammates are back on their home turf for the third week of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League at Ghadir Arena in Urmia, with the six matches in Pool 11 featuring Iran, reigning world champions Poland, VNL winners Russia and Canada.
Marouf has proven that his playmaking skills has been valuable in the last two weeks of men’s VNL competition as his team has recorded five wins in six matches outside their home court. And for the next two weeks, they will have the privilege to have the support of their home fans.
“I’m happy that we will play here in Urmia,” Iran coach Igor Kolakovic said. “This city has a rich history in volleyball. We have players in the team who come from Urmia, so they are excited that they can play in front of their own people. We expect hard games because our opponents here are among the top ranked teams at the VNL now.”
Marouf is expected to utilise the team’s leading scorer Amir Ghafour, who has scored in double figures in their previous four matches. Ghafour has collected 91 total points – four points behind Egor Kliuka, who is one of the forces in Russia’s five victories.
Canada and Poland have four wins and two losses and are both strong contenders in Pool 11. Canada have the current best scorer Sharone Vernon-Evans, who has recorded 86 attacks, 10 blocks and 11 aces so far, while Poland will rely more on their well-balanced offence – a formula coach Vital Heynen has proven effective in their last outings.
The matches in Urmia will open starting with the classic rivalry Russia and Poland at 15:30 local time, followed by the encounter of Iran and Canada at 18:30.
Meanwhile, Portugal will also count on the positive energy from the crowd as they host Pool 9 in Gondomar. Portugal coach Hugo Silva has a tough task to steer his team to great performances against Brazil, Serbia and China.
“The public has an important part this weekend,” Silva said. “We had the experience playing against home teams in Argentina and Russia and the atmosphere there were extraordinary. We felt the warmth from the fans. That’s why we need our own fans to help us cheer for us on those crucial points to create some positive energy on our team.”
Brazil are undefeated at the men’s VNL, while Serbia have a 2-4 win-loss card and China have recorded only one win in their last six matches.
Yoandy Leal Hidalgo and Wallace De Souza give Brazil power of a one-two punch offence, while Ricardo Lucarelli’s great efficiency on the attack creates a strong frontline for the South American team.
The matches at Gondomar will start with the matchups between Brazil and Serbia at 18:00 local time and Portugal and China at 21:00.
Fifth-ranked Italy are in Varna with Bulgaria, Japan and Australia. The Italians are hoping to add wins to the four they have already recorded when they play these three teams in Pool 10.
In Italy’s last six matches, Gabriele Nelli stood out in scoring, while Simone Giannelli has been great directing the plays for his teammates.
In Pool 12, hosts France will take on Argentina, the United States and Germany in the French Riviera city of Cannes.
The home team is hoping that they could extend a good run after logging five wins in the tournament, where young opposite Jean Patry delivered well for the French side.
USA will face Argentina in the first match at 17:00 local time in Cannes, followed by an all-European encounter between France and Germany at 20:00.