Brazil on a 'mission' to win gold

Brazil's men's volleyball team are looking to put the devastating defeat to Serbia in last month's world league final behind it as it hunts for an Olympic gold on home turf.

Brazil will be looking to avenge last month's world league final defeat and go for gold on home turf.   -  Getty Images

Brazil's men's volleyball team are looking to put the devastating defeat to Serbia in last month's world league final behind it as it hunts for an Olympic gold on home turf.

Speaking to reporters after a training session on Thursday, players were still visibly frustrated by the 3-0 loss and vowed to make amends in front of a partisan crowd.

''That final was atypical, I don't know what happened... But it won't happen again,'' said 34-year-old opposite hitter Evandro Guerra. ''We're ready to go for gold. That's it.''

Volleyball is one of the host nation's best medal hopes and veteran coach Bernardo Rezende said it was paramount the players keep their focus despite the excitement of a home Olympics and living alongside superstars like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.

''This is not Disneyland, it's not a Carnival parade. We're here on a mission,'' said Rezende, for whom this will be his fourth Olympics as men's coach.

Brazil starts its campaign against Mexico on Sunday in the Maracanazinho gymnasium. Considered hallowed ground, the venue sits adjacent to Rio's famed Maracana soccer stadium.

The home nation's main rivals will be Poland and Russia, ranked second and third behind them in the world rankings.

At the last Olympics, Russia stunned Brazil with one of the sport's most dramatic comebacks, rallying from two sets down to win 3-2.

Poland has not won an Olympic volleyball medal since taking gold in 1976, but it dominated Brazil in the final of the 2014 World Championship to underline its Games credentials.

Other powerhouses in the men's competition include the United States, who beat Brazil for gold at Beijing 2008, and five-times medal-winner Italy, which is still hunting for its first Olympic title.

The Brazilian team know the country has high hopes for them.

''We must play to show this is our home... With passion, heart and intelligence,'' said Rezende.