Champions Poland will defend their title with the same squad which won the country’s first World League title last year in Sofia, Bulgaria with the exception of legend Pawel Zagumny as all 18 World League teams confirmed their squads for the 2013 edition, which starts on May 31.
The 35-year-old setter is the only player missing from the list of 12 who gave Poland their first international title since the 1976 Olympics, adding to their 1974 World Championship crown. Star player Bartosz Kurek and skipper Marcin Mozdzonek provide the backbone to the side, which also finished fifth at last year’s Olympics.
Last year’s silver medallists USA have a new coach in John Speraw with former beach volleyball star Matt Fuerbringer his assistant. The notable absentee is star player Clayton Stanley with Matt Anderson taking over the captaincy role, while David Lee returns for his eighth successive World League campaign.
Bronze medalists Cuba will not be led once again by 20-year-old wonder kid Wilfredo Leon, who will be disqualified like his teammate Yoandry Diaz.
Meanwhile, Olympic champions Russia, under their new coach Andrey Voronkov, have the same lineup which took them to their first Olympic gold medal since 1980 and fourth in total, apart from libero Alexey Obmochaev and the retired Sergey Tetyukhin. Dmitriy Muserskiy, who broke the record for the most number of points in an Olympic final (31), and Maxim Mikhaylov will lead the way for the world No. 2 alongside skipper Taras Khtey.
Brazil coach Bernardo Rezende has named an experienced squad with the majority of the players which took them to Olympic silver included however missing is star player Murilo and the retired Giba and Sergio as the world No. 1 and nine-time champions look to improve on their worst ever finish in the World League (sixth) recorded last year. Bruno Rezende will captain a side still featuring the likes of Dante, Lucas, Theo, Mario, Sidao and Wallace.
In other key developments, World League Finals hosts Argentina includes Facundo Conte, Rodrigo Quiroga, Luciano De Cecco and Ivan Castellani – the son of legendary Daniel – with former attacking ace Marcos Milinkovic installed as Javier Weber’s assistant.
Bulgaria have appointed a new coach in former assistant Camilo Placi with former coach Nayden Naydenov returning to the assistant position while former captain Vladimir Nikolov is manager. Tsvetan Sokolov and the Brateov twins – Georgi and Valentin still star.
Finland have a new coach in Tuomas Sammelvuo, who replaced Daniel Castellani, while Laurent Tillie has replaced Phillipe Blain in charge of France.
Last year’s breakthough team Germany, who qualified for the Finals for the first time, feature a new captain in Jochen Schöps, replacing the rested Bjorn Andrae and Gyorgy Grozer.
Legendary coach Julio Velasco has named a new captain Mir Saeid Marouflakrani for debutants Iran while eight time winners Italy are missing the experienced Luigi Mastraneglo and Alessandro Fei with captain Cristian Savani, Simone Parodi and Ivan Zaytsev leading the way.
Japan also have a new coach in Gary Sato while Dragan Stankovic has been named as the new Serbia captain.
Brazil, Poland, USA, Argentina, France and Bulgaria will compete in Pool A while Pool B features Russia, Italy, Cuba, Germany, Serbia and Iran. The third group – Pool C – includes Canada, the Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Finland and Portugal.
Each pool will play over six weekends before the Finals, which take place from July 17 to 21. Six teams will qualify for the World League Finals featuring the top two teams from Pools A and B, plus the winners of Pool C and the host country. As Argentina is in Pool A and is already among the qualified teams, the best ranked two ranked teams of Pool A – excluding Argentina – will qualify.
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