Iran captain Milad Ebadipour was all praises for the recently appointed head coach, Vladimir Alekno, for his way of establishing a strong bond with his players that could translate to future success.
Ebadipour Praises Alekno for Building Trust with Players
Iran dropped their opening match against Asian rivals Japan in straight sets but showed a lot of poise, stealing a set against VNL defending champions Russia in their second match on Saturday.
“We expected a tough game because we played against Russia, one of the best teams in the world,” Ebadipour said.
“They were really good, they were better than us, especially in the physical aspects of the match. I have to praise our young players because they played really well. They pushed a lot and I think the Russians felt it. Of course, we could have won this game, but we made some small mistakes during the match.”
There is indeed familiarity with Russia’s game on Alekno’s part, who was previously the Russian national team coach, and that helped his team improve their game in their second outing. However, an element that the Russian mentor has changed in the Iranian system is their offence.
“Before the tournament, he pushed us to be an offence-driven team, so he prepared us to face teams that are physically better than us like Russia, United States, Brazil and Poland,” Ebadipour explained.
“He knew that well and he focused on strengthening our offence against these kinds of teams. We played very well in attack against Russia and if we continue doing this we could really put other teams in trouble.”
The 27-year-old outside hitter also commended his coach for building trust with the players.
“We had a bad game against Japan, but we showed that we believed in ourselves against Russia. This is very important for our growth. Even in tough times, trust in each other will make you grow because there is always a good lesson each time,” he said.
Since Alekno’s arrival in Tehran in mid-April, the Russian has shown a positive approach that has inspired the players to give their best.
“I had a bad start in the national team because of an injury, but he trusted me and gave me time to recover. This was important for me. When a coach shows trust in me, it makes me want to give him my 100 per cent all the time. I am sure the other players also felt the same. That’s the best thing about Alekno, he puts a lot of trust in his players.”
As he also assumed a special role in the team as captain to a young Iranian squad, Ebadipour recalls getting support from his seniors when he was younger. And this is the kind of leader he wants to be to his younger teammates.
“When I was younger, I also made a lot of mistakes in the game. It’s tough for a young player to make a comeback after making mistakes, but veteran players like (Saied) Marouf and (Seyed) Mousavi helped me a lot with mentality and volleyball when I was younger.
“I think it is important that when a young player faces difficulties in a match, experienced players should support them.”