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Algeria coach rallies players ahead of World Grand Prix playoff
Algeria Coach Ahmed Boukacem has said his players will have to dig deep if they want to beat Kazakhstan as the two sides prepare to clash in the first FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix playoff on Thursday.
The two teams will meet twice, once on Thursday and again on Saturday, for the final spot in this year’s tournament, set to run from August 5 to 21 with the final round being held in Macau, China for the first time since 2001 from August 24 to 28.
It is the first time a playoff is being used for the World Grand Prix and has added an extra spice to this year’s contest.
“The two meetings will not be easy,” Boukacem said on Wednesday. “Kazakhstan has a very good team with at least three players in the Italian championship.”
“We have looked at videos of this team and will have to play fiercely to have a chance of qualification for the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix.”
The two countries last and only meeting was during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games preliminary round. On that occasion it was the Kazaks who came out on top 3-1.
If Kazakhstan are again victorious over the next two matches they will go on to compete in their third World Grand Prix. Their previous two outings were in 2007 and 2008 when they finished 10th and 12th respectively. Most recently the team competed at the 2010 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Japan, finishing 21st after failing to win a match, despite pushing Cuba to five sets.
Algeria have never competed in the World Grand Prix and if they qualify they will become the first African side to do so since the tournament’s inception in 1993. The team have peaked in recent years and are now considered one of the top teams in Africa, most recently winning the 2009 African Continental Championship. However that success has yet to transpire to the world stage as they also finished 21st at last year’s Women’s World Championship. Nevertheless, the side will be drawing on some of the crowds passion as they look to make history.
The 2011 FIVB Volleyball Grand Prix will feature 16 of the world’s top teams spread across four pools for three weeks before the Final Round.