World champion coach Caprara takes charge of Azerbaijan

Gianni Caprara has been named the new coach of the Azerbaijan women’s national volleyball team as the country ranked 22nd in the world seeks to achieve Olympic qualification and more.

The former coach of Russia and Greece has spent the last five years at Eczacibasi VitrA in the Turkish League and Bisonte Volley Firenze in Italy’s Serie A1, and he will continue to work with the Florence-based club.

Caprara confirmed in April that he had renewed his contract with Bisonte for another two years, at the end of what he called “one of my most beautiful years”.

Bisonte finished seventh in the final Serie A1 table but their performances were enough to persuade Azerbaijan that Caprara and his deputy Marcello Cervellin are the team to take the country to Tokyo 2020.

International pedigree

Azerbaijan face Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Cameroon in a fiercely competitive Group D at the Olympic qualifiers from August 2-4, after which Caprara’s next task will be the European Championship.

His side will be up against Croatia, the Netherlands, Romania, Hungary and Estonia in Pool C of a competition in which Caprara twice led Russia to bronze.

The 56-year-old’s greatest achievement in international volleyball was Russia’s gold medal at the 2006 FIVB World Championship in Japan, where his side beat Brazil in a tense final.

Azerbaijan are 22nd in the FIVB world rankings and 13th in the CEV European rankings as they prepare to enter a new era under an accomplished coach.