World No. 2 Brazil are in sixth place on the World Grand Prix Standings with 14 points from five wins and one defeat – a surprise 3-1 loss to Bulgaria on week two – knowing that they will need to win all three matches to ensure their place in the Finals, which will feature the top five teams from the Preliminary Round and hosts Japan.
Brazilian coach José Roberto Guimarães admitted to facing a tough weekend ahead after a 10-hour flight but was clear in his side’s goals for the weekend.
“Cuba and Brazil will always be a classic,” he said during the coaches’ press conference at the Baluan Sholak Sport and Culture Palace on Wednesday. “It will be especially important for those new to this type of match. We need a good win against Cuba to continue our race to the Finals. Then we will play against the Netherlands, who we already played three times in Brazil. I think this will be our most dangerous game in Almaty. Manon Flier, who did not play in the friendly matches in Brazil and has previously been voted the Most Valuable Player of the World Grand Prix, will play here. It can make a difference. And finally, we will face Kazakhstan playing at home. This step is important because we have to try to make the nine points to qualify for the Finals as well.”
The Netherlands’ coach Gido Vermuelen embraced the challenge of facing Olympic champions Brazil, despite the Dutch team facing a transition period. “We’re a very young team. We are building a team, (but) we are very happy to play the games,” said Vermuelen said.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s coach Oleksandr Gutor expressed his regret about his team’s performances in the earlier rounds where they picked up only one point from a 3-2 defeat to Argentine in the first week. “The players didn’t use tactical approaches and technical skills they were practicing during training cycle,” he said.
Cuba is likewise on a mission to chart their first win and first points of the tournament but Friday’s opening match against Brazil 09:00 GMT (15:00 local time) will be far from an easy task.
Coach Juan Carlos Gala Rodriguez simply expressed how excited he was in amassing playing experience for his young team in the third round.
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