Turkish women’s teams set eyes on European title
The Final Four of the 2018 CEV Women’s Volleyball Champions League will be played this weekend, with two Turkish teams setting their eyes on the prize.
Galatasaray will take on CSM Volei Alba, which will be playing at home at the Sala Polivalenta in Bucharest, on May 5 in the second semifinal, while Vakıfbank plays Imoco Volley in the day’s early game in its bid to defend the title.
The winners of the two semifinals will clash for the Champions League title on May 6, after the losers play for the third spot earlier in the day.
Defending champion Vakıfbank is keen to win back-to-back titles, however, the team’s coach Giovanni Guidetti noted that his side has a tough semifinal in hand against the Italian champion.
“This Final Four is very complicated because especially in the semifinal we will be facing a team that plays incredibly good volleyball and they just won the national league title in Italy,” Guidetti said.
“Imoco Volley has been playing at a very high level this season and it will be a great challenge to compete against them,” he said.
Vakıfbank captain Gözde Kırdar is prepared to end her career at the end of the season at the age of 32, hence the Final Four means so much to her.
“I’m going to play the last matches of my career in Budapest,” said Kırdar.
“This tournament means a lot to me and we will be fighting to defend our title. We have nothing in our minds other than winning the trophy. Finishing my career with Europe’s most prestigious cup would be an amazing way to bid farewell to competitive sport,” she added.
Imoco coach Daniele Santarelli said his side will be the underdog against Vakıfbank.
“We have done wonders throughout the season and although we are not the favorites, we will try to have a great semifinal against Vakıfbank, the number one team in Europe,” he said.
Galatasaray, on the other hand, is ambitious to bring the trophy back to Istanbul, and coach Ataman Güneyligil has no concerns over playing against the home side.
“This year we have been very successful when competing away from home,” Güneyligil said at a press conference in Istanbul on May 2.
The more competitive the match, the more motivated our team is,” he said.
The coach recalled Galatasaray’s former European trophies in other sports.
“In 2000, no one gave our football team a chance against Arsenal in the UEFA Cup Final in Copenhagen. No one thought our women’s basketball team could win the Euroleague title in 2014. So, if there is a final game, Galatasaray is the number one candidate to get the cup,” Güneyligil said.
Team captain Neslihan Demir Güler said the players are ready for the challenge.
“Actually, we are a little impatient,” she said.
“We would like to play our first game as soon as possible. We trust ourselves. It is a tournament consisting of two matches only. If there is a cup to win, we win. Finishing my career with the Final Four is also very important to me. So, why not with a cup?” said Güler.