Team rosters for the IBSA Goalball European Championships
in Finland in September have now been confirmed.
Turkey has been dominant in women’s goalball in recent years. They won Paralympic gold in Rio and are the reigning European Champions as well. But now their whole has changed ahead of the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships in Pajulahti, Finland, raising questions before the Euros kick off in the 18th of September. In the Malmö Lady Intercup on May Turkey finished in last place.
Turkey’s possible decline means that Russia, the silver medallist in the 2015 Euros, will be one of the favourite to clinch the title in Pajulahti. Because the International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee due to doping issues Russia couldn’t participate in the Rio Paralympics. In the European level however they have been the strongest side together with Turkey for some time. Israel, who finished seventh in Rio, could be one of the strongest challenger to Russians in Pajulahti.
Also men’s Paralympic winner Lithuania have gone through changes since Rio. Most notably Genrik Pavliukianec, arguably one of the best goalball players in the world, retired from international goalball after their Paralympic triumph which will definitely have an effect to Lithuanian scoring power in Pajulahti. Also their head coach Karolis Levickis retired after Rio and he is replaced by only 22-year-old Sarunas Jukna.
Sweden did extremely well in Rio, finishing fourth. Two of their most important players, Fatmir Seremeti and Jimmy Björkstrand are still in the team so things are looking good for them ahead of the Euros.
The reigning European Champion Turkey have lost two important players after Rio but their top scorers Ekrem Gündogdu and Tuncay Karakaya are in the team so Turkey can’t be ruled out from the gold medal contest. Also Germany, who finished seventh in Rio, will have a strong side in the Pajulahti Euros.
Ukraine have done well in the warm-up tournaments this year and may be ready to go far in the Euros. Czech Republic have managed to keep their quality players and will want to do well after missing out the Paralympic Games.
Of course home team Finland will be a tough side to beat on home soil and they will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing 9th place in Rio. The team is a bit younger now and have new coaches but the strong trio of Erkki Miinala, Jarno Mattila and Miika Honkanen will be the backbone of the home team.
to view the teams for the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships.
Caption: banner for the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships.