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“The Bulgarian mens volleyball national team, controlled by the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation, is one of the leading volleyball teams in Europe and the world.”
Association Bulgarian Volleyball Federation
Head coach Nayden Naydenov
FIVB ranking 9 (as of January 4, 2012)
Olympics Appearances 7
Website www.volleyball.bg (Bulgarian) (English)
The following 12 players were called up for the 2012 Summer Olympics
9 Dobromir Dimitrov
7 Todor Skrimov
10 Valentin Bratoev
15. Todor Aleksiev
17. Nikolay Penchev
11 Vladimir Nikolov (captain)
19. Tsvetan Sokolov
12 Viktor Yosifov
14. Teodor Todorov
18. Nikolay Nikolov
13 Teodor Salparov
Taking a look at the World Championship, we see that Bulgaria has won one silver medal (1970) and four bronze (1949, 1952, 1986, 2006). From the European Championship, Bulgaria has won one second place (1951) and four third (1955, 1981, 1983, 2009). The team of Bulgaria has also made a relevant recent result by winning the bronze medal in the World Cup 2007. Although Bulgaria is a constant participant in the FIVB World League they’ve never won a medal – their best achievements in this competition are four fourth places (1994, 2004, 2006, 2012).
What about the Olympics?
Bulgaria has taken part in 7 Olympic Games. Their best result is the silver medal from the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Another good performance was the fourth place from the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
The so expected happy volleyball summer for the Bulgarians turned into a blue one. After the scandal in Bulgaria and the resignation of the head coach Radostin Stoychev and big star Matey Kaziyski , the main setter Andrey Zhekov has also left the team. Captain Vladimir Nikolov is about to leave right after the Olympics.
So, what’s the current situation in the team?
Bulgaria has made a painful change of the generations, right in the time when their team most needed their stable players, their leaders. Many expected that the young Bulgarian boys couldn’t be a good opponent to their rivals and couldn’t cope with all the tension.
But they kind of surprised in the Preliminary stages of the FIVB World League after performing well (even without captain Nikolov, who didn’t take part in the International round) and finishing fourth in the Finals. The new main setter Georgi Bratoev and the young star Tsvetan Sokolov, along with the old dog Todor Aleksiev, also took the leadership and showed that the Bulgarians have a good “new wave”, and maybe in the future this team will perform even better and will cause some bigger problems to their rivals.
In Beijing2008 the team of Bulgaria finished 5th and this time it seemed that the Bulgarians wanted to make it better. Bulgaria could have dreamt about a medal from the Olympics this summer, but after all the drama that happened, the current aims are again 5-8th place. It would be difficult for them, because they’re in a pool with Poland, Great Britain, Australia, Italy and Argentina. Bulgaria will open the volleyball tournament against the hosts of Great Britain.
Although the Bulgarians come to London2012 after a scandalous summer, and after losing some of their best players, their team isn’t to be underestimated and they have the chances to achieve their aims. But to be fair, it would be a bit unexpected if they manage to win a medal.
Prediction: 5-8th place
Photo by Sofia Photo Agency