Time waits for no-one and the main phase of the Olympic cycle is about to start. A few teams have already won their tickets to London, but many FIVB Heroes will be fighting for their chance at select events in May. Each tournament’s winner will join the Olympic line-up and many strong teams are in the running for it: the qualification tournament in Ankara will be a veritable clash of the titans! So who will emerge victorious?
Turkey’s star Neslihan Darnel has the advantage – hosting the competition equates to a definite home advantage with strong support from local fans. Especially as volleyball is growing ever more popular in Turkey, so true volleyball fans will come to cheer for their ladies! In preparation for the tournament, Turkey, who won bronze at the European Championships, will play two friendlies against the Netherlands and Manon Flier! The opposite wasn’t able to help her club in the final of the Japanese league, but she’s back and hungrier than ever to lead her team to victory! The Dutch will not only take on Turkey, but also go head to head against Bulgaria, another contestant in Ankara.
Germany, with Margareta Kozuch on board, missed its chance at the World Cup, but the charismatic coach Giovanni Guidetti never gives up, and neither does his team! Germany will visit Poland prior to the tournament to test the waters in friendly matches against Joanna Kaczor and her team.
Ekaterina Gamova and her Russian team surprisingly didn’t get to the final of the European Championships and lost their chance to play in the World Cup. The new line-up, however, bolstered by some of the country’s most experienced players, is among the favourites to win in Ankara. Russia will prepare for this battle in friendlies against Croatia.
Serbia can count on two FIVB Heroes in its ranks, captain Jelena Nikolic and opposite Jovana Brakocevic. While Ankara isn’t the only chance for the country to secure its ticket to London, it will be sure to put up a good fight! And Jelena, just like Ekaterina and the coach of the German national team, has first-hand experience of Turkish fans, so she knows what to expect. The perfect constellation to repeat Serbia’s success in the European Championships?
The tournament kicks off on 1 May. We can’t wait to find out which FIVB Hero will come out on top this time!