Iran are out to defend their title from 2017, which they are seen here celebrating, as the 2019 FIVB Boys' U19 World Championship begins in Tunis.
Tunis, Tunisia, August 20, 2019 - They've performed at home and excelled regionally, but volleyball's new generation of under-19-year-olds are now making their debut before a world audience over the next couple of weeks, as the 2019 FIVB Boys' U19 World Championship gets underway tomorrow in the Tunisian capital - though there's a handful of players that do have some impressive previous exposure to world-level volleyball.
Iran are here to defend the title they won two years ago in Bahrain, when they beat Russia 3-1 in the final at Riffa. That was Iran's second title in the history of the competition, after their success in 2007 when they edged China 3-2 in an all-Asia affair in Tijuana.
The Asian powerhouse will also be looking at replicating the triumph of their men's U21 team last month, when they beat Italy 3-2 in the final of that age-group World Championship, also in Bahrain.
Indeed, as many as four players from that squad from last month's U21s are here in Tunis to try and get their personal second world championship gold of the season. This includes both starting middle blockers, Amir Hossein Toukhteh
and Mehran Feyz
, alongside Mahdi Jelveh
, yet another middle blocker, and opposite Bardia Saadat
.Amir Hossein Toukhteh here celebrating last month in Bahrain at the U21 World Championship is ready to lead Iran to new glory at the U19 World Championship starting Wednesday in Tunis.
The three middle blockers, despite their young age, could be considered 'veterans', amongst the debutantes of this World Championship: At 17, they had all already been part the Iran squad that won the 2017 U19 gold in Riffa.
Brazil are the only team in the history of the competition to have competed in all 15 previous editions and they lead the medals table with six gold and one silver. But the South American powerhouse have not been on the podium in 14 years, since the last time the competition was held in Africa, in 2005 in Algiers, when they ended up with their sole silver after losing in five sets to Russia in the final.
Brazil themselves are fielding a couple of players who were in at the U21 Worlds last month in Bahrain. Setter Gustavo Andre
, who celebrated his 17th birthday earlier this month, will be captaining Brazil here in Tunis, alongside outside hitter Nathan Mota
. Both were on the South American squad that beat Russia in the bronze medal match at the 2019 U21 Worlds.Gustavo Andre here in action last month in Bahrain at the U21 World Championship is now in Tunis to guide Brazil at the U19 World Championship starting Wednesday.
Cuba, who were 10th in Bahrain last month, have the most players carrying over to the younger squad in Tunis - as many as six, including setters Christian Thondike
and Adrian Chirino
, outside hitters Jose Gutierrez
and Victor Andreu
, middle blocker Luis Allen
and libero Ricardo Gomez
.Cuba's Victor Andreu and Luis Allen on the block against Argentina last month in Bahrain at the U21 World Championship. Both return to star at the U19 World Championship starting Wednesday in Tunis.
The 2019 FIVB Boys' U19 World Championship involves a total of 20 teams representing all five continental confederations. Amongst the top favourites and other old hands, there's two contries making their debut in the competition - Colombia and Nigeria.
The 20 teams are divided into four pools of five for the first phase of the competition. The top four of each pool will advance to play for positions 1-16 in a knockout phase, with the rest carrying on until the very end for classification matches.
All matches will be played in two venues, both in Tunis. Pool A (Chinese Taipei, Belarus, Cuba, Brazil, Tunisia) and Pool B (Bulgaria, Italy, Czech Republic, Colombia, Iran) are in El Menzah; Pool C (Mexico, Argentina, Egypt, Germany, Japan) and Pool D (Dominican Republic, USA, Korea, Nigeria, Russia) are at Rades.
The so-called 'youth veterans' will surely form the foundations of their squads as they seek to excel in Tunis, but it's going to be an exciting two weeks coming up, to watch in action for the first time all the fresh talent that's bound to keep the volleyball world thrilled for the next decade or more.Quick links - Volleyball:FIVB.com - Volleyball Boys' U19 World Championship - Tunisia 2019FIVB.com - VolleyballFacebookTwitterInstagram