|Honore on verge of A1 volleyball final |
By JONATHAN RAMNANANSINGH Thursday, April 4 2013
MARC Anthony Honore’s Portugal-based Benfica team is presently one-win away from securing a spot in the finals of the A1 Volleyball Championship Division.
Even though Benfica are the defending champions, this season has been a constant uphill climb for the dominant European club. They are also the 2012 winners of the Portuguese Volleyball Cup, but will not retain their coveted title in this division, having already been eliminated from further contention. However, Honore and his squad have cemented their focus on Portugal’s top volleyball crown, the A1. This competitive season has already been plagued with several injuries to key players, but the multiple champs are determined to go all the way.
Speaking from Portugal yesterday, Honore revealed, “The club is playing well but we are struggling with keeping our level high because we have several injured players. Some guys have just returned from injury and are not 100 percent and one player is completely out for the remainder of the season. We have managed to hold on to the first place though and have three more games before the finals.”
This weekend, Benfica will play two crucial matches against sixth place Esmoriz on Saturday and third ranked team Fonte Bastardo on Sunday. Once Honore’s team is capable of winning either of these clashes, they will be mathematically guaranteed a place in the championship match.
But, an injury-hampered Benfica squad foresees several competitive challenges within the coming matches. Honore admitted that many players have been forced to play in unfamiliar positions on the court, in an attempt to make up for their missing teammates.
He further added, “This year we have maintained first position, but we didn’t dominate like we did last season. We got knocked out of the cup tournament (which we won last year). Our setter, an integral player, got injured a week before that game and was out for maybe six weeks with a leg injury. During the game we weren’t playing well and then more bad luck, we lost our backup setter, with a badly sprained ankle and a fracture in his foot. We couldn’t recover from it and got knocked out of the cup by Guimarăes. Fighting through the next four games or so with players playing out of position, we managed to keep first place, but only barely.”
The former Naparima College player was pleased to have not sustained any major injury this year and hopes to carry his team to yet another Portuguese A1 title.