Young Lions set bar high for home World Champs qualifier


Bulgaria play hosts to France and Denmark

Sofia, Bulgaria, January 6, 2017 - This coming weekend Hristo Botev sports hall in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia will play host to a first-round qualifier for the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship starring the national teams of Bulgaria, France and Denmark.

The ‘young Lions’ from Bulgaria have a new coach – former national team player Nikolay Jeliazkov has replaced Vladimir Nikolov at the helm of the team. Last year Bulgaria finished eighth in the Final Round of the U20 European Championship they contested on home soil in Varna and Plovdiv. Bulgaria and France were assigned to the same preliminary pool in that tournament – with the hosts eventually emerging victorious after a match lasting five sets. Jeliazkov expects another close match with France this coming weekend.

“They have a very good team with good players, and some are on the roster of strong clubs in France, so I expect a difficult match between two teams that can play at the same level,” Jeliazkov said.

The last time Bulgaria played Denmark was in January 2015 when this same group of players took on the Danes in a qualification tournament for the U19 European Championship which was also held at Hristo Botev sports hall. Bulgaria won that match 3-1 as both teams eventually qualified to the Final Round held in Kocaeli and Sakarya, Turkey.

“Some people underestimate Denmark but I do not share their view,” Jeliazkov added. “In my opinion they have good players too. Denmark are a dangerous opponent and we must prepare in the best way for this match as well. They achieved some good results lately, so we are going to have an interesting tournament these coming days,” he said.

“Our main goal is to win this tournament and move on to the second round of qualifications, to a group including 2016 U20 European silver medallists Ukraine. We really want to qualify and compete at the World Championship. I know it will be tough but we are ready to fight. I believe in my players and in their skills,” Jeliazkov concluded.

Bulgaria and France will open the programme of the tournament on Friday, January 6 with all matches set to start at 15:00 local time.

Visit the CEV website for match reports and statistics and to follow the action in first round qualification pools A-D.

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FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship - Volleyball
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