Vital Heynen is hoping home advantage will help qualification for Tokyo 2020
Lausanne, Switzerland, February 6, 2019 – Poland men’s coach Vital Heynen has one overriding aim for 2019, qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Back to back world champions Poland will host one of the six FIVB Volleyball Intercontinental Olympic Qualification Tournament pools from August 9-11.
They will face France, Slovenia and Tunisia in Gdansk with the winner of the pool earning a place at Tokyo 2020, which runs from July 24 to August 9. Should they fail to qualify then, they will have a second chance at the CEV European Qualifying Tournament that will take place in January 2020.
“Let me put it firmly - the only thing that matters now is to qualify for the Olympic Games this year,” Heynen said.
“If we reach Tokyo in August, we will greatly simplify our preparations for the Games in 2020. If we fail, we will play in January, and this will give us extra pressure, which is unnecessary for anyone. We want to avoid this and that is why we want to qualify as soon as possible.”
With home court advantage Poland will be the favourites to qualify.
Men's tournaments - August 9-11:
Pool A: Hosts are Bulgaria
Teams in pool: Brazil, Egypt, Bulgaria, Puerto Rico
Pool B: Hosts are Netherlands
Teams in pool: USA, Belgium, Netherlands, Korea
Pool C: Hosts are Italy
Teams in pool: Italy, Serbia, Australia, Cameroon
Pool D: Hosts are Poland
Teams in pool: Poland, France, Slovenia, Tunisia
Pool E: Hosts are Russia
Teams in pool: Russia, Iran, Cuba, Mexico
Pool F: Hosts are China
Teams in pool: Canada, Argentina, Finland, China
Poland won the first of back-to-back FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship titles in Katowice in 2014, and while they failed to win a medal when they hosted the CEV 2017 European Championship, victory at the Italy-Bulgaria 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship means they go into the competition in confident mood.
The matches will take place at the Ergo Arena which is likely to be packed to its 15,000-capacity with Poland’s famously passionate fans.
“Organising the tournament holds no disadvantages and I think that doing so increases our chances of qualifying for Tokyo,” Heynen said. “Players avoid long journeys, can sleep in hotels they know well and they can train in their usual training centres.
“In addition, we will play in front of Polish fans who always bring a smile to my players’ faces, and in return we can also please our fans with our game.
“I haven’t coached the Polish team in Gdansk yet, but I was there during the 2013 European Championship. It is a fantastic city with amazing people, and in addition the city has a great venue.”