It may be all smiles now, but the serious business of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup Japan 2015 begins on Tuesday
Hiroshima, Japan, September 7, 2015 – The battle lines were drawn at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup Japan 2015 press conference on Monday, with the six coaches in Hiroshima putting together their final touches ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualifying tournament.
Australia, Canada, Egypt, Italy, Japan and USA will all begin their campaigns in the city, with the remaining six ready to face off in Hamamatsu.
FIVB Volleyball World League 2015 bronze medallists USA are looking to move at least one step up the podium at this competition, which would earn them a place at Rio 2016.
"We are excited to be here and have the opportunity to compete for the World Cup trophy and Olympic bid," explained coach John Speraw. "Hopefully we can do better than the World League.
"I think the teams in this competition are deeper than they were in the Women's World Cup. We feel good and think we are in a good place. Our team has a balance of young players, some who are just out of university, and also talented veterans who will help guide the young players. We will challenge and hope to have a nice result here."
Egypt will also hope to bring some of that winning form from the World League to Japan, with the 2015 Group 3 winners eager to make an impact.
"Egypt was waiting for our success at the World League and it will be waiting for us to succeed here at the World Cup," coach Nehad Shehata commented. "We want to improve our world ranking and get experience. We will do our best."
For Canada, it is a first World Cup in 12 years, and coach Glenn Hoag is keen to begin what will be a positive learning experience for the world No.14.
"This is the first time at the World Cup for me as a head coach and for my players,” he added. "This will be a learning experience for us. The quality of the competition is high and we had a short preparation time after having the Pan American Games in Canada. But we are ready."
Italy coach Lorenzo Blengini is also experiencing his first World Cup as a coach and has put faith in the new process within the European outfit.
"I'm excited to be here," Blengini said. "It's my first World Cup as a coach. We didn't have a lot of preparation time. We are excited to be here and will improve by working together. We are ready to start. We have started a new process with our team and we are working for the present and future. We are working day-by-day to be better."
The future is also on the mind of Australia coach Roberto Santilli. With an average age of 23 years old, the men from down under are the youngest side on average in Japan.
"It's a big honour for me to be part of the World Cup," he said. "We have brought the youngest team here. A lot of our guys will have the chance to get experience. It's a big challenge for us. I'm proud to be here."
However, the hopes of the whole nation will be on Japan. The hosts have never won the tournament, their best result being two silver medals at the 1969 and 1977 editions of the tournament. But coach Masashi Nambu insists that the world No.20 can go all the way.
"This is my first World Cup as the coach. Our team has many young players. This first time will be a great experience for them. The players here are high level and it is a great opportunity for us. We will do our best."