VNL 2024 - News

Paes CEV

Paes is currently working with Epicentr-Podolyany in Ukraine (Photo: CEV)

Brazilian head coach Mauricio Paes will be ahead of Iran men’s national team when they make a final push for a spot at the Paris Olympics in a few months during the Volleyball Nations League 2024.

The Brazilian was announced by the Iranian Volleyball Federation as the team’s new coach, replacing Behrouz Ataei, who stepped down after two years following the team’s appearance at the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament, last October.

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The 60-year-old Paes will have his first opportunity to coach a men's national team after serving as an assistant with Brazil, France and Czechia in the last decade, having worked under the legendary Bernardo Rezende and Philippe Blain - he also coached France women's national team between 2013 and 2014.

Paes developed a solid coaching career in France, having worked in clubs in the country for nearly 30 years and won eight national titles before joining Ukraine’s Epicentr-Podolyany in 2023. He also spent four seasons with the Panasonic Panthers in Japan, securing two titles.

The Brazilian’s main mission with Iran will be to qualify the team for the upcoming Paris Olympics at the VNL 2024 and because of that, the coach signed a short-term contract until the end of the Games, which can be extended.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us this summer,” the coach reflected. “I believe that with young talent, confident and experienced players, we can have a good mix in our squad. We’ll be ambitious, determined and committed as we try to qualify for the Olympics. We need the support of Iranian fans to take the team to the top of international volleyball.”

Iran to have their last chance in the VNL

Iran wasn’t among the national teams that qualified for Paris at last year’s Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournaments and will, therefore, have to fight for one of the last five spots in the Games, which will be determined through the FIVB World Rankings.

The Asians are currently in 15th place in the rankings and have seven other national teams that are still vying for an Olympic spot ahead of them. Iran would need to get good results in the VNL 2024 in order to pass at least four of them to earn the right to compete in Paris - one of the five remaining berths is reserved for the highest-ranked African national team as the continent doesn't have any teams qualified so far.

The team will be in Rio de Janeiro in the opening week of the VNL, from May 21-26, where they will play against Serbia, Italy, Cuba and Argentina, four direct opponents in the fight for an Olympic spot.

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