Tough task for volleyball team at pre-Olympics tournament

The men’s national volleyball team will need to produce miracles at an upcoming pre-Olympics tournament in Rome between November 28 and December 2, following a poor showing at the recent Europeans, if it is to stand a chance of reaching the next stage of pre-Olympics qualifying action. In Rome, Greece and five other contestants will battle for one place at next January’s final-stage qualifying tournament in Turkey where the European zone’s berths for next year’s Beijing Games will be determined. Greece coach Alekos Leonis, whose squad has just gathered for the Rome tournament, said he would treat the pre-Olympics tournament in Rome as an opportunity to build for the future. «We’re looking at this pre-Olympics tournament as a continuation of the recent European Championships. We want to rectify the problems that existed,» said Leonis, whose team was eliminated in the first round at the recent Europeans in Russia following a win and two losses. «Italy rates as the favorite. If we play seriously, we will have laid a claim for the future. The transition toward renewal needs to be conducted smoothly. In recent months, we were joined by Costas Prousalis, Achilleas Papadimitriou and Theoklitos Karypidis. Our objective is to play well and achieve realistic goals, like qualification to the next Europeans. On the other hand, we also want to push forward young players,» added Leonis, who will be missing several players, sidelined by injury, in Rome. Greece will face the Netherlands and Romania in one of the Rome tournament’s two groups. First or second place leads to criss-cross semifinals. Italy, Croatia and Montenegro make up the other group.