(ATR) Argentina arrived in Lima with just one goal: to repeat their gold medal in men's volleyball at the Pan American Games.
Lisandro Zanotti and Gaston Fernandez from Argentina block Miguel Lopez from Cuba (Lima 2019)
As it happened in Toronto four years ago, the national team wants to win the tournament and that’s why they trained the B team to their maximum level. It’s a really young team but with the reinforcements of Nicolás Bruno and Franco Massimino, the group found the perfect balance.
Argentina began defense of the title with a win over Cuba on the first day of the men's competition in Lima.
But it wasn't easy. The Argentines won the game by scores of 28-26, 25-22 and 25-22. The two countries faced each other at the last Pan American Cup, when Cuba defeated Argentina in the final. That is why this match had an extra edge to it.
“We want the gold medal and for that, we have to stay focused on our game and confident about our team. This match was our first final, now we have three more to go,” said Lisandro Zanotti. He also says he is pleased with the team growth and said the players have shown outstanding improvement on their defense and have improved their techniques to create better attacks.
Argentina knows the road to the title won’t be easy. They have tough rivals to play against, but also feel confident with their game and trust coach Horacio Dileo’s ideas. For most of the players, this is their first Pan Am experience and they look forward to getting the best results from it.
Both teams felt the support of the Peruvian fans. They created the perfect atmosphere for the match, but the players admitted it was hard to get used to the constant noise.
“We loved the pitch, we came to see it yesterday and were amazed by the high quality of the whole stadium. The fans felt really close and that’s something we like, it feels like home and makes you run and push a little harder,” described Argentina's Jan Martínez.
Even though Cuba lost, they look to the future. They will meet Puerto Rico next while Argentina will be playing against Perú. The Cuban players understand what it means to represent their country, though for many of them this is the first time on such an important stage. They said it’s an honor and a pleasure but also were sincere about the fact that it is a huge responsibility and they have to take it seriously.
“The fans were really kind and were a surprise for all of us. We wanted to stay focused but their constant songs and enthusiasm were intense. We loved it," said Cuba's Yonder Garcia. "But we have to be honest, we are here to get the gold medal and have to improve the different errors we had on the pitch for tomorrow's match."
Written and reported by Olivia Diaz Ugalde in Lima
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