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Andrea Anastasi talks to his players during their match against Dinamo Moscow (Photo: CEV).

Former head coach of the Polish men's national team Andrea Anastasi spoke to the press team of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship about Polish Plusliga club Projekt Warszawa's start in the CEV Champions League and about his expectations for next year's big event in Russia .

On Wednesday, Anastasi's players took on Russian champions Dinamo Moscow for the first time in the CEV Champions League. The Warsaw-based club were bronze medallists in last season's Polish league and took the first two sets against their opponents, before losing in five, 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-16, 15-12).

- What was the key to your match against Dinamo Moscow today?

- I think that when you play against Dinamo Moscow, you have to play at the top level. We were not always able to do that after the second set. We made it to the 5th and to 12-12, but unfortunately Yaroslav Podlesnykh closed the set for our opponents. But I don't think we should be disappointed with a point against Moscow. I think they are the best team in our group. A point is still a point. The competition is a long one, and we believe we can play a good tournament.

- Dusan Petkovic wasn’t part of the team today. Do you think it was one of the key reasons you lost today?

- I wanted Dusan to help us today, but unfortunately he is ill. You know, I lost him in the last match of the season, when he didn’t play. We didn’t bring him here. He is an important player for our team because he is very consistent, with a lot of experience. We missed him. We didn't bring our second setter Angel Trinidad de Haro either, so we didn't have a substitute for that position. Training last week was also difficult. But so goes the life of a team. Sometimes you are not as lucky, but you have to remain positive.

- You were 2-0 up and before the third set you had a long talk with your players. What did you tell them?

- I think Dinamo were surprised by the level of our volleyball at the beginning. And that is good because it enabled us to take a point and it’s really important for us. Unfortunately, our level dipped in attack and they played well. That was the difference. Also, if Moscow bring in Tsvetan Sokolov and Denis Bogdan, it is a little bit different. I couldn’t make similar changes to my team, especially today. That’s all. I am a little bit upset for the guys because they were fighting like lions.

Anastasi

Photo: CEV

- Russia will host the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship next year. And you were a world champion in 1990. Do you remember that tournament and your feelings?

- I often think about it. I think Russia have an opportunity to win it next year, absolutely. They have amazing players. I think their team is one of the best in the world. And there is one thing that is very clear: Tuomas Sammelvuo has a lot of players to choose from for his selection.

- What about Poland? Can they claim a hat-trick of victories and win the World Championship trophy again next year?

- Poland still have an amazing team. They had some problems last season because the pressure on the team, in my opinion, is incredible. I know because I was a coach of the national team of Poland. Sometimes the feeling is the guys have to win every tournament. But nowadays there are six to eight teams who can win. We should have respect for every team around the world.

- In one interview you said that Nikola Grbic was the best candidate to become head coach of the Polish national team. Why do you think that?

- OK, first of all, we are good friends with Nikola. Nikola was my player, we have a good relationship. Now he has become an amazing coach. And he can be a good choice. If you see the names of the coaches who are in the list, there are other amazing coaches too. It is not easy for the federation to choose the right coach. If Nikola gets the position, I think Poland will be in good hands.

- Weren’t you thinking of surprising everyone and leading one of the teams during the upcoming World Championship?

I don’t think so. The only country who were looking for a new coach was Poland, and I was not in the list because I didn't send my CV to the federation. I will continue to focus on my club.

- Do you have any expectations for the World Championship which will be held in Russia?

- I am pretty sure it will be amazing. I hope the COVID-19 virus will allow us to feel free. I know the situation in Russia is not as easy as it is in Poland right now. And you know, I am always a little afraid of the situation, because we also need fans at the arenas.