USA is slightly the favourite in NORCECA Men’s Olympic Qualifier
CAGUAS, Puerto Rico, January 2, 2008.- The 2008 NORCECA Men’s
Continental Olympic Qualification Championship will be played
January 6-11 in the city of Caguas, with USA as the top favourite
of the eight-team event to be held at Hector Sola Bezares
Following its fourth-place finish at the FIVB World Cup, Team
USA’s world ranking has improved from fifth to third behind Brazil
and Russia. Nevertheless, it can expect a battle from several
NORCECA teams, particularly Canada, Cuba and Puerto Rico, which
defeated the United States in four sets at the World Cup and went
on to finish sixth.
The other teams that have confirmed their participation in the
qualification championship are Mexico, Dominican Republic,
Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. All competed at the 2007 NORCECA
Men’s Continental Championship in Anaheim, California.
Only the winning team at the NORCECA qualifier will earn a spot at
the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
Puerto Rico qualified for the World Cup by finishing second to the
United States at the NORCECA championship. The United States was
the only team to beat Puerto Rico in that tournament.
Teams will be divided in two pools with the winner of each
division advancing directly to the semi finals round. Teams placed
in second and third will meet in crossed matches in the quarter
The USA (3rd), Puerto Rico (8th), Barbados (32nd) and Dominican
Republic (35th) will compete in Group A. Cuba (17th), alongside
Canada (18th), Mexico (37th) and Trinidad & Tobago (38th) complete
Playing Puerto Rico at home will be difficult, said U.S. Head
Coach Hugh McCutcheon. “We expect Puerto Rico’s fans to be out in
force,” McCutcheon said. “It will be like playing Poland in Poland
or Brazil in Brazil.”
Puerto Rico’s Hector Soto was the overall leading scorer at both
the NORCECA Championship and World Cup tournaments.
“It won’t be easy. The competition will be tough but our chances
of qualifying are there,” stated Soto. “We will be at home and if
the other teams want to qualify they will have to beat us first.”
"This Olympic qualifier has a full spectrum of eligible teams from
the NORCECA Zone and will prove to be a tough qualifying process,"
commented Canada's Head Coach Glenn Hoag. "Our team is focused and
looking forward to playing after many months of training. Our
attention will be focused on the task at hand."
“Our guys are very enthusiastic and they are going to battle for
the qualification. Cuba has participated in six Olympic Games, but
none of the current players have been present in an event of this
magnitude. They are young with good potential but without
experience at this level, despite some participations in the World
League,” said Orlando Samuels, the Cuban coach.
Preliminary Round Schedule
12:00 Canada vs Trinidad & Tobago
14:00 Dominican Republic vs USA
16:00 Cuba vs Mexico
18:00 Opening Ceremony
19:00 Puerto Rico vs Barbados
14:00 Trinidad & Tobago vs Mexico
16:00 USA vs Barbados
18:00 Cuba vs Canada
20:00 Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic
14:00 Trinidad & Tobago vs Cuba
16:00 Barbados vs Dominican Republic
18:00 Mexico vs Canada
20:00 USA vs Puerto Rico