Yoandy Leal: We know how to be champions


Yoandy Leal spikes through the block of Zenit Kazan's Wilfredo Leon and Andrey Aschev as he leads Sada Cruzeiro to triumph in the final of the 2016 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship.

Lausanne, Switzerland, November 20, 2017 - Three-time gold medallists, in 2013, 2015 and 2016, Sada Cruzeiro of Contagem are getting ready to fly off to Poland as their quest begins for a fourth title at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship beginning December 12.

The Brazilian players are confident after a strong preparation, but they believe that the competition will be the toughest in the history of the competition.

The Minas Gerais team is in Pool A in the first phase, up against the hosts and reigning Polish champions Zaksa Kedzierzyn-Kozle, Italian champions Cucine Lube Civitanova and two-time Asian champion Sarmayeh Bank Tehran.

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Pool play of the Club World Championship will be in Opole (Pool A) and Lodz (Pool B, featuring Poland's PGE Skra Belchatow, reigning European champions Zenit Kazan, Argentina champions Personal Bolivar and China champions Shanghai Volleyball Club).

After a single round-robin tournament the two best teams of each pool advance to the medals round, moving to Krakow for the semifinals and finals.

"All our programming, since the beginning of this season, has been made with the World Championship in mind," says Sada Cruzeiro coach Marcelo Mendez. "This edition will be more difficult than last year's. Our group is very strong with the Italian and Polish champions, both of whom have great players, as well as the Iran champions which include many national and foreigners players. It will be a very heavy game sequence and we have to enter each match as if it were the final."

Cuban-born Yoandy Leal reinforces the preparation work that has been done and ensures that the team is confident. "Our preparation progresses well and we are working hard," says the 29-year-old outside hitter. "The team has a winning mind, always wanting to win. We are confident for Poland, we know how to be champions."

Sada Cruzeiro count on the energy of their fans in their quest for a fourth title at the 2017 FIVB Men's Club World Championship.

Another outside hitter of the reigning Brazil and South America champions, Rodriguinho, is in agreement on the difficulty of the tournament. "This competition has very good teams and also has the Brazilian champion, so the battle will be great. I think every game will be very difficult and we have to take it one step at a time to reach our bigger goal, the title," he says.

For Rodriguinho, despite the high level of all the teams, Zenit Kazan is perhaps the toughest opponent: "They are always in the finals, they already have a World Championship in their history. I think it's one of the favourite teams, alongside ourselves."

The players have the support of the fans to win the title. "Our fans are always very active, close to the team. Even from Brazil, I know they're going to send a lot of good energy to us all the way to Poland," adds Leal. "I hope they send all the positive force possible. If they can watch the broadcasts, comment, send messages to the players, it will be great and will motivate everyone to do much more."


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