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Sensational: Kaziyski Back on Bulgaria’s Roster After 11 Years!

About 11 year after he last played for the Bulgarian national team, the country’s most prominent active star, Matey Kaziyski, is back on the roster! The long list of 28 players, announced by head coach Plamen Konstantinov, who also came back to the helm of the Lions after last leading them at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship, is highlighted by a number of other stellar returns like those of Teodor Salparov, the Bratoev twins and Nikolay Penchev.

Kaziyski quit the Bulgarian national team just before the London 2012 Olympic Games because of a conflict with the federation’s president at the time. Even after the current president Lyubomir Ganev took over, the phenomenal outside hitter has declined all invitations to rejoin the Balkan Lions saying he was past his time for playing with the national team.

According to the Bulgarian federation’s press release, 38-year-old Kaziyski will announce his final decision whether to accept Konstantinov’s invitation after he is done with the Italian SuperLega, where his club team Itas Trentino Trento are currently playing in the final playoff against Cucine Lube Civitanova, the club of rising Bulgarian star Aleksandar Nikolov, who is also on the national team list. However, the mere fact that Matey Kaziyski’s name appeared on the roster is already sensational news, and if his final decision is positive, his participation in this summer’s national team season will be a real delight to volleyball fans all over the world.

Matey Kaziyski and Aleksandar Nikolov pose together during one of their encounters in Italy’s SuperLega (source: bvf.bg)

Matey Kaziyski and Aleksandar Nikolov pose together during one of their encounters in Italy’s SuperLega (source: bvf.bg)

Legendary libero Teodor Salparov, the Best Digger of the London 2012 Olympics, who put an end to his national team career after the continental Olympic qualifications in January 2020, has obviously changed his mind now as his name is also on Plamen Konstantinov’s list. So are the names of 35-year-old Georgi Bratoev, the Best Setter of London 2012, and outside hitter Valentin Bratoev, both of whom have not played for Bulgaria since Volleyball Nations League 2019, as well as that of Nikolay Penchev. The 30-year-old outside last wore the national team jersey at the continental Olympic qualifiers for Tokyo 2020.

As many as 13 of the 14 players, who represented Bulgaria at last year’s FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship, are also on the new roster. The notable absence is that of 33-year-old outside Todor Skrimov, who decided to retire from the national team.

Some of the players are already in training together in Sofia. Konstantinov himself and his staff will join the camp on May 15. Bulgaria, currently 23rd in the FIVB World Ranking, will officially open their 2023 season with a VNL game against China on June 6 in Nagoya, Japan. For competition weeks two and three of the Preliminary Phase, they will travel to Orleans, France and Anaheim, USA, respectively, and if they manage to qualify for the VNL Finals for the first time, they will make the trip to Gdansk, Poland from July 19 through 23.

The CEV European Championship, which Bulgaria will co-host with Israel, Italy and North Macedonia, will take place from from August 28 through September 16. The season will end with the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifier from September 30 through October 8, when the southern European team will compete for two Olympic vacancies in a pool with Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland and tournament hosts China.

Bulgaria men’s national team full roster:

Setters: Delcho Raev, Dobromir Dimitrov, Georgi Bratoev, Georgi Seganov
Opposites: Branimir Grozdanov, Dimitar Dimitrov, Radoslav Parapunov, Tsvetan Sokolov
Outside hitters: Aleksandar Nikolov, Asparuh Asparuhov, Denis Karyagin, Martin Atanasov, Matey Kaziyski, Nikolay Penchev, Samuil Valchinov, Svetoslav Ivanov, Valentin Bratoev
Middle blockers: Aleks Grozdanov, Iliya Petkov, Krasimir Georgiev, Nikolay Kolev, Nikolay Kartev, Svetoslav Gotsev, Stefan Chavdarov
Liberos: Martin Bozhilov, Simeon Dobrev, Teodor Salparov, Vladislav Ivanov

Source : Volleyball Nation League