VNL 2024 - News

GT MCWCH2021 LUB TRE-34

Italian coach Gianlorenzo Blengini signed a three-year contract with the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation and takes over the southern European country’s men’s national team from previous coach Plamen Konstantinov. The contract involves a two-year extension option, clearly indicating a long-term prospect geared towards qualification for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.

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The federation’s decision to offer the job to the 52-year-old Italian was actually made and announced several weeks ago, but now the signed contract has officially finalized the new appointment. In addition to working with the Lions, Blengini will have responsibilities in working with the Lion Cubs, Bulgaria’s age-group national teams. His first official competition at the helm of Bulgaria will be Volleyball Nations League 2024. After that, he will help in the preparation of the youth and junior teams for their participation in this year’s continental championships.

Blengini will be engaged in his new job full time, which means he will have to leave his current position as head coach at Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova at the end of the current club season. One of Bulgaria’s leading players, rising star Aleksandar Nikolov, is currently competing for Lube under the guidance of Blengini.

The Lions will start their VNL 2024 campaign against reigning Olympic champions France on May 21 in the pool taking place in Antalya, Türkiye, where they will also face Canada, USA and the Netherlands. During the second competition week of the Preliminary Phase, they will compete in Fukuoka, Japan with games against Poland, Germany, Iran and Slovenia. Then they will travel to Ljubljana, Slovenia for their matches against Türkiye, Italy, Cuba and Argentina.

Bulgaria will be the first foreign team in Blengini’s coaching career. His only previous national team experience was with his native Italy’s squad, which he worked with from 2014 to 2021, initially as assistant coach and then as head coach, leading them to a 2015 FIVB Volleyball World Cup silver and a Rio 2016 Olympic silver. In his career as a club coach, Blengini has always worked with Italian teams. With his current club Lube, he is a three-time national champion and a one-time Coppa Italia winner. In 2021, Blengini steered Lube to an FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship silver.

“Gianlorenzo Blengini’s qualities are indisputable,” said Bulgarian Volleyball Federation President Lubomir Ganev. “His long list of achievements speaks for itself. I wish him success at the helm of the Bulgarian men's national team and I sincerely believe that our cooperation will lead to the desired results.”

“We are extremely happy about finalizing our negotiations with Mr. Blengini. What’s even more gratifying, however, is his motivation and belief in the capabilities of our national team. A coach with such a career and such a reputation would not commit to a project without serious potential," said Bulgarian Volleyball Federation Vice President David Davidov. “We will look for all kinds of opportunities to use his capacity in different directions - regularly holding coaching seminars, assistance in conducting the preparation and the participation of our age-group national teams, etc. We are motivated and prepared to make the most effective use of Mr. Blendjini's time in Bulgaria and we look forward to his arrival in May.”

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