After a frustrating fifth-place finish at the Volleyball Nations League 2022, Brazil turned to a familiar face to improve their chances of doing well at the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship, which will be played in Poland and Slovenia from August 26 through September 11.
Brazil count on Wallace to get back on track
The veteran opposite will be key to his team's hopes at the World Championship
Published 06:00, 21 Aug 2022
Opposite Wallace de Souza, who had announced his international retirement following the team’s fourth-place campaign at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, is one of the 14 players shortlisted by head coach Renan dal Zotto for the tournament.
The decision to try to convince Wallace to return after he sat out of this year’s VNL was prompted by an injury sustained by fellow opposite Alan Souza during the tournament.
With potential substitutes Felipe Roque, Aboubacar ‘Abouba” Neto and Franco Paese all recovering from physical issues, Renan thought having the experienced Wallace to help mentor 20-year-old Darlan Souza, could be important for the team.
“When we called him, his response was excellent,” Renan said. “He was always in our plans and he’s really happy to help us at this moment. We can already see how his return has improved the team’s atmosphere and confidence in training. We definitely don’t expect him to be a hero, but with him, our roster gets significantly stronger and we believe he can make a huge contribution to the team.”
A Rio 2016 Olympic champion and the Most Valuable Player in Brazil’s victory at the 2021 VNL, Wallace helped Brazil win silver medals at the 2014 and 2018 editions of the World Championship. Wallace was also a gold medallist at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship last December with Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei.
After leaving last year's Olympic Games empty-handed for the first time since Sydney 2000, and failing to make it to the VNL semifinals for the first time in four editions, the South Americans are confident they can also use the experience of the 35-year-old Wallace to guide some of the team’s younger players in a moment of turbulence.
“There will be pressure, it’s always like that with Brazil,” Wallace commented. “All we can do is work hard and prepare to win matches and achieve our goals. We need to be mentally strong and accept that we’ll be dealing with pressure the entire time. We have some younger players joining the team this season and I’m sure they’ll soon understand that.”
With Wallace back on the squad, three-time champions Brazil are set to debut at the World Championship on August 26 against Cuba. The South Americans will also play Japan on August 28 and Qatar on August 30 in Pool B.