It definitely paid off for the Croatian volleyball team to go to Bulgaria, to Samokov. After hard preparations and training served daily by coach Emanuele Zanini, they were given the opportunity to see in action what they have done so far.
And judging by the outcome of three preparatory matches with the host Bulgaria, the national team that is in the Top 10 best teams of the Old Continent according to the ranking of the European Volleyball Federation CEV, it worked well. The Bulgarians are tenth, while Croatia is on the 27th place in the ranking list, so two victories and one draw are a great achievement in this part of the preparations for the European Championship, which our volleyball players expect at the beginning of September.
One of the more standard members of the Croatian national team, middle blocker Sandro Dukić, commented a little on the friendly matches with the Bulgarians:
„We are very pleased with what it looked like, it was really good. Of course, then came the result, although he was not in the foreground. We wanted to see what stage of preparation we were in before the EP, and that filled us with confidence. Everything worked very well in our game, and we played against a very strong team, at home. The first day, after we arrived the previous one after 12 hours of travel, we did two training matches because we split into two teams. In the first we celebrated with 3:0, the second we played 2:2. The next day there was another game on the schedule, which we won 3-1. These victories mean a lot to us in terms of motivation“ – says Sandro, who is already announcing new preparations:
„Immediately after the last game we returned to our base in Osijek, we traveled at night because that’s what we all decided. It was better to get some sleep on the bus and then have the whole Saturday off, than to have lost another Saturday on the road. On Sunday we had a relaxing training in the pool, and from the end of this week we expect the national team of Slovenia in friendly matches in Osijek, a team that is 7th in the CEV rankings. Apart from the Bulgarians and Slovenes, friendly matches in Turkey against the home team are also planned.“
And, when we mention the bus on several occasions, let’s say that our national team members traveled through Serbia to Samokov, Bulgaria, by bus with the Croatian volleyball federation logo but also large photos of our two captains, Samantha Fabris and Tsimafei Zhukouski.
„The bus looks really great, and it attracted attention everywhere. We also had a police escort through Serbia, and when we arrived in Bulgaria, everyone turned to us, which we liked. With such a bus, the whole team looks much more professional. And then when a good game and result match, those are really reasons for pride and satisfaction,“ says, in the end, the experienced 29-year-old two-meter Sandro Dukić, who is currently without a club engagement, but with games like this he and the whole team will not take a long time.