2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship
If you were a fan of volleyball in the 90’s, then you remember a Dutch male squad that completely dominated the sport, which culminated with gold medals at the 1996 Olympic Games and 1997 European Championship, in addition to many more podium finishes in other high-profile competitions. It did so under the captaining of all-time legends like 2x Olympic Games MVP Bas Van De Goor, and standouts such as Ron Zwerver.
Unfortunately, time moved on for the Dutch, and the team is now currently ranked 25th in FIVB’s Senior Rankings. Things may be turning around, though, as for the first time in 16 years the Oranges qualified for a spot at the FIVB World Championship. It has recently announced it roster for the competition (with only one cut left). High-powered offensive machine for Italy’s Milano, Nimir Abdel-Aziz is the squad’s biggest name
The Netherlands, ranked 16/24 in our Power Rankings, will debut on the 2018 WCH on September, 12 against Canada. It will then go on to play Brazil, China, Egypt and France in Pool B. The Dutch split friendlies with the French and Belgium teams last week, but lost all of its three matches against Brazil, which means it amassed 1-4 record against direct pool opponents during its WCH preparation. Regardless, it should be the favorites between China and Egypt to progress as Pool B’s fourth seed. Nimir Abdel-Aziz firmly believes this (FIVB.com):
“It is of course very special that we are back at the World Championship. This is a very special moment for the team and for all volleyball fans in the Netherlands. But we do not dwell on that. We are going to the World Championship to leave a mark. We want to show everyone that we really belong there. It is very difficult to say where we are now, but there is a good feeling within the squad after our joint training sessions against our pool’s top favourites France and Brazil. They are both in the top three of the world and, of course, it was difficult, but we showed some good things. Against France we played very well and it was a nice fight. Brazil, however, were clearly a bit too strong, but we have certainly learned from this. Canada are also in the top eight of the world and did very well in the Volleyball Nations League. I think we should aim at beating China and Egypt. We are lower in the world ranking, but that does not mean everything. The goal is certainly to win against these two countries, so the two duels will be crucial.
If we get through the pool, then we will be in the top 16 of the world. That would be very nice. It is the hardest tournament in the world, with the highest level. For me, it is a great honour to be captain of the team at the World Championship. We have worked very hard all summer and we are very eager to show something beautiful at the World Championship. At an event like this, you want to give everything to produce a good result. We have gained a lot of experience at the highest level and found our rhythm. There is great confidence within the team.”