Piano happy for winning start in second round


Hiroshima, Japan, October 9, 2019 - Italy picked up an assured 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-22) win over Egypt at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup on Wednesday, spurred to victory by Dick Kooy, who notched 18 points at Hiroshima Green Arena.

Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blengini: “I’m very satisfied that we were able to win today’s match, it’s very good that we were able to win. We knew that Egypt were a very difficult team because they beat Australia and Iran. Australia had their regular members but Egypt beat them, so we knew this was going to be a very difficult team we’d be playing against today. But we were able to keep our attention in attacking. Especially in the second set we kept patience and composure in our play. At one point we were behind five or six points, yet we were able to come back and win the set. The third set was also a tough one. The Egypt head coach (Gido Vermeulen) changed their strategy and they played well and kept their tenacity to the end. It was a difficult match but we were able to win it.”

Italy captain Matteo Piano: “My Japanese word of today is ‘banzai’ because I am so happy that we won. It wasn’t so easy, I think we began the game a little bit nervously. It was good that we took the match always on our side. Egypt pushed us and they went over us. It was important for us to begin the new second part of this tournament with a victory.”

On the impact this 3-0 win can have, especially bearing in mind that Italy lost the first game of the first round 3-0 to Japan“I think that when there is a new group – because we are a new group, we didn’t play together all summer, and this group is made of young guys – winning takes trust in yourself and (having) fun. It’s not so easy when you are not so expert and comfortable in the field to have fun and be focused and want to try. Also if you are losing the match then this is important. I think and hope we can start the next matches with more trust in ourselves, and maybe a little bit of good ‘breathing’. Because sometimes this is the big difference. I didn’t want to make the same mistake – me, I’m not so young, but in the first match against Japan I was a little bit. I felt my team, I was the captain, it was the first match and you are in Japan against Japan. And then I thought this, I wanted to change today. I wanted to breathe and enjoy. It’s volleyball, I’ve played volleyball a lot of times. You have to enjoy this and take this to you and the team. I like that we’ve had this little but important change from the other time. (Now we must) stay there and smile.”

Egypt coach Gido Vermeulen: “I would like to congratulate Italy for the win. We prepared for the game very well, but our team was not ready today. I am very shocked by that, because we can play much better volleyball. If we believe in what we can do and if we prepare well for a game we have to show that in the court, and today we didn’t. In the last five games every game we have shown that we can play very good volleyball and today we didn’t so I am very disappointed. Not in the result, because Italy is a good (team) so we know they will beat us, but the way we performed was not the way we can. So we have to take our lessons from that and move on to the next game.”

On the cause of the poor performance“First of all Italy started very well, I don’t think they made one mistake in the first 12 or 15 points and we made too many. We caught up with them because we played with good focus and a good plan that we’d prepared. It was a lack of concentration from our team or pressure from Italy – it (depends) how you want to see it. They served great against us, and if we could control the serve we’d have played a good game but their pressure was too much and they didn’t make any mistakes – we know that of them – so it was a challenge for us to play as well like this, without any mistakes and with good concentration. But they did this much better than we did.”

Egypt captain Ahmed Abdelhay: “Thanks to Italy for the match. I think it was a very bad dream, we didn’t come from the hotel. Our performance was very bad and we lost concentration. I’m sure we will learn from this lesson and we will have to work more in the next matches and achieve more after today’s bad performance.”