Plovdiv Mayor calls on fellow citizens to pack Kolodruma and support Maritza [video]

On two separate occasions within a few days, the Mayor of Plovdiv Ivan Totev called on his fellow citizens to pack the Kolodruma hall on Tuesday evening, when Maritza Plovdiv faces Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul in their first-leg encounter of the second round in the 2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women. Europe’s oldest living city has been bracing itself in anticipation of this clash between the champions of Bulgaria and the champions of the world.

On the day before the important battle Mayor Totev invited the president of VC Maritza Iliya Dinkov, along with players and staff members, to join him in a press conference, which took place in the town hall and attracted huge media attention.

“First, I would like to thank Maritza for what they are doing for the development of sports in our city, and second, I would like to call on all Plovdivers to come to the Kolodruma tomorrow at 6 PM and show our support for the team in this very important match,” Ivan Totev said. “We know there is a very strong opponent against us and we have nothing to lose, so let’s create an incredible atmosphere at the hall and inspire our team on the court. I am sure everyone who comes to see this game will be pleased with the experience.”

The mayor pointed out how much he enjoyed Maritza’s home match in the first round of the Champions League. In their historic debut in the competition, the Bulgarian title-holders shut out Kosovo’s Drita Gjilan twice to earn the right to face the reigning club world champions. In the meantime, Eczacibasi VitrA was successfully defending its crown at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship Manila 2016.

“This probably is the best squad in the world right now, but I would rather focus on our team,” stated Maritza’s head coach Ivan Petkov. “We have been working very hard and have serious ambitions to achieve a positive result. We couldn’t be any more motivated to succeed against such an opponent. No matter how strong they may be, they are not going to have six robots on the other side of the net; they are human and, as such, not invincible.”

His words were supported by the news that Eczacibasi VitrA lost its first-leg match in the Turkish League to Bursa BBSK, a team that had been defeated by Maritza just a few days ago at the Cengiz Gollu international tournament in Bursa. The world champs themselves seem to have no intention to underestimate their much less decorated Bulgarian opponent. They have arrived in Plovdiv with the exact same 14 players who travelled to the Philippines to step on top of the world.

“This is a tough opponent and it will be a difficult match, but we will fight for the victory,” commented Radosveta Teneva, captain of Maritza. “I am sure all volleyball fans know that it will be interesting and many of them from all over the country will travel to Plovdiv and fill the stands.”

The support of the home spectators is certainly a key factor Maritza will be relying upon to tackle the hard task it is facing. “The fans can add an extra 20% to our efforts on the court,” added middle blocker Viktoriya Grigorova. “It will be wonderful if the stands are full, because we can feel it very well on the court and get even more motivated.”

The euphoria about the clash between Maritza and its powerful rival is really rising in Bulgaria, but Maritza’s President Iliya Dinkov is keeping his cool: “This is a match we can only win from, so in that sense we already have. Some six years ago coach Petkov and I wished for games like this and here they are. But I can assure you that Eczacibasi VitrA is neither the first nor the last big team that visits our city. Nothing starts or ends with tomorrow’s match,” said Dinkov.

The Tuesday game between Maritza Plovdiv and Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul will start at 18:00 local time at the Kolodruma competition hall in Bulgaria’s second largest city. It will be nationally televised on BNT HD with an international live stream available on LAOLA1.tv.

Watch the press conference on video:

Photo: Plovdiv24.bg