Tokyo, Japan, May 27, 2016 – France coach Laurent Tillie says his side will not fall victim to complacency when they begin their Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament campaign in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday.
Last year’s FIVB Volleyball World League and European champions come to the tournament full of confidence, but Tillie – who this week agreed a four-year extension to his contract with France
which will take him to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – knows past results will count for nothing should the world No.10 fail to qualify for Rio 2016.
“For me, this tournament is no less serious than the one we played in Berlin,” he said on Friday. “We are entitled to think that we are in a favourable position thanks to the results we achieved last year, but in fact, it was last year.
“The balance is positive as is the concentration and attitude, especially considering the short time of preparation that we had and the status of the players,” he added. “The other satisfying thing is that there is now a popular view of this team having had great success, with a great fervour in Tourcoing and Harnes [where the side played Iran last week], very enthusiastic fans. We really feel that our performances have sparked a craze among the public, players are susceptible. It is a new status that also brings new responsibilities for us to face it."
Tillie’s assistant coach Arnaud Josserand last week said that the side’s preparations had been hampered thanks to the success of the individuals at their clubs across Europe, adding that they had to “adapt their preparation” and this was echoed by the 52-year-old.
“It was very complicated because some players who have finished their season later, necessarily needed a few days off,” he explained. “It was therefore necessary, once they joined us, to try and get everyone on the same tempo from a physical point of view while working on automation input so they are ready as soon as possible.
“Mentally, too, it was difficult, because after the end of their club season, there was an inevitable small decompression phase. When they arrived, there was relief as they were all excited! It took them little time to recover and they responded to this in training.”
France begin their campaign against China on Saturday.