Northern Ireland and the Faroe Islands opened on Friday night the programme of the first-round
qualifier for the 2018 FIVB Men’s World Championship, which is taking place this weekend at d’Coque, the iconic National Cultural and Sporting Centre in Luxembourg City. Though they have travelled to the Grand Duchy with a roster consisting of only nine players, Northern Ireland had the upper hand recording a 3-1 win over the rookies from the Faroe Islands (25-21, 24-26, 29-27, 26-24), who on Friday night made their historic debut in a World Championship qualifying event. The competition will now continue on Saturday and Sunday with hosts and pre-favourites Luxembourg playing Northern Ireland first and then the Faroe Islands.
The tournament featuring the national teams of Luxembourg, Northern Ireland and the Faroe Islands coincides also with the qualifying stage of the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Small Countries Division (SCD). The eventual winners and runners-up of the single round robin will move on to the second stage of the World Championship qualification process scheduled for May 2017 as well as secure their progression to the SCD Finals due to take place in Iceland next year as well.
The tournament taking place this weekend in Luxembourg City is the first of two major events to be organised at d’Coque, the Grand Duchy’s National Sporting and Cultural Centre, as one week later the ‘Lions’ of Luxembourg will be hosting the national teams of Austria, Lithuania and Moldova for the first qualifying round of the ‘big’ European Championship.
Focussing for the time being on the SCD / World Championship qualifier, it looks like Luxembourg are enjoying much more than just the home court advantage following their unprecedented results in what was a memorable 2015 season, including gold at the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) and at a home Final Round of the 2015 SCD European Championship.
The year 2016 extended this success story with Luxembourg topping the final standing – for the first time ever – of the annual Novotel Cup, an international tournament held every year in early January at the same iconic premises of d’Coque.