A number of quarter-final spots were decided at the 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, on Wednesday (6 June) with group games still to play.
One of the first teams to qualify were the Brazilian women in group D.
Ana Carolina Custodio unleashed her signature throw against defending champions the USA to give her team a 3-1 win.
Custodio chose to throw the ball backwards through her legs throughout the match, a technique rarely seen, to score all three of Brazil’s goals.
“The first time that I stepped on a goalball court, this was my first throw (between the legs). I tried the front throwing but this is for me the strongest, fastest ball and where I can reach all the targets on the court,” Custodio said. “So for me it is more efficient than the front way.”
The USA did manage to defend most of the Brazilian attacks in a low-scoring game with Lisa Czechowski also scoring.
“Our team feels more determined than ever now to step it up and play a great quarter final tomorrow. We need to re-focus, slow down and play our game. We just need to do exactly what we’ve been practicing,” Eliana Mason said of Team USA;s performance.
The USA will also advance to the next stage despite losing against Canada in a surprise result, the second of two for the Canadians on Wednesday. The maple leafs also beat China to grab their quarter-final spot.
The Canadians dominated the first 12 minutes to take a 4-0 lead over their Asian rivals into the second half. Wang Chunhua then tried to keep China’s heads above the water with three goals but Canada continued to advance.
More goals for Emma Reinke and Meghan Mahon followed as they broke the Chinese defence. The match finished 9-3 and the travelling supporters went wild.
Canada claimed victory over defending champions the USA 5-2, with further goals from Reinke and Mahon.
“We all feel great, it’s really exciting,” Reinke said. “Usually we go back and forth but this is a different team this year and we are really excited.
“First and foremost we’re focusing on defence. We’re going to go in and do our very best. It could go either way, we’re not expecting something in particular, we’re just going to go in, focus on our defence, score some goals and hope and pray!”
Also in the women’s Turkey made it out of group C after winning 5-0 and 6-0 against Japan and Australia, respectively. Sevda Altunoluk was once again centre stage, scoring 10 goals across the two games.
Just one goal separated Japan and Israel in their group C game on Wednesday. Japan just had the edge after captain Yuki Temma found the back of Israel’s net to close the scoring at 3-2.
With their one win and one loss on Wednesday, Japan go to the quarter-finals.
Russia saw off hosts Sweden 10-0 with seven goals coming from Irina Arestova. They then beat Australia 11-1 to secure their quarter-final place. However Australia also squeaked through as the fourth place finishers, meaning group C is the first to be finalised at Malmo 2018.
In the men’s Belgium comfortably qualified for the quarter-finals with their fifth win in a row, this time against Turkey. Klison Mapreni starred for the Belgians with five goals in their 10-4 victory in group A.
Meanwhile there were apt celebrations for Sweden on their national flag day.
After a 15-6 loss against Paralympic champions Lithuania in the morning, the team were uncertain if they would have the chance to qualify. But in the afternoon they triumphed over Algeria in front of a packed venue to keep themselves in the running.
Their second game lasted an exhausting 66 minutes, much longer than the current tournament average of around 48 minutes.
Captain Fatmir Seremeti put Sweden on the board and he was followed in the first half by a double from Magnus Rendahl. Seremeti and Rendahl added a further five goals in the second. Mohamed Mokrane took Algeria’s only goal in an 8-1 final score line.
Speaking afterwards, Seremeti said: “We really needed to win that one, so it’s a huge relief. And the way we did it was even better because it shows we have that potential, we just have to keep believing in ourselves and doing what we are good at.
“It was many official time outs and many things happening all the time so it was really tough keeping our focus up and concentration. But I would like to say about our centre Nils Posse, he was a real pro today.”
Seremeti was also optimistic about his team’s chances of qualifying with one group game to play against China on Thursday (7 June): “Definitely, three points here and three tomorrow and we are through, so why not, we have everything in our own hands.”
Lithuania had the edge in their game against Sweden repeatedly breaching their defence. Mantas Panovas and Justus Pazarauskas were nearly unstoppable with six goals each and a final score of 15-6.
Lithuania cemented their place in the quarter-finals with a 16-9 win over China later in the day.
In the men’s group B defending title holders Brazil eased past Egypt 10-0 to continue their unbeaten run. They advance to the quarter-finals with a game in hand. Brazil rested their key players for the match, allowing Andre Dantas a full game to bag six goals.
Germany were the second team from group B to secure a quarter-final spot on Wednesday.
A comfortable first half for the Germans against Japan saw them 3-0 up at the first whistle.
Michael Feistle and Oliver Horauf both reached hat-tricks before Reno Tiede added another to bring the score to 7-4.
Iran gained the three points they needed to advance to the quarter-finals despite a second-half charge from Czech Republic in their face-off.
Leading 8-3 at the break, Iran laid back too far in the second-half and allowed four goals from Jan Bosek to crash into the net. Lukas Valer then fired a shot past Iran to bring his team within one goal of equalising, but they just ran out of time. The final score was 9-8.
A series of group games are still to play on Thursday morning before the quarter finals in the afternoon.
A number of teams still have the chance to secure their places depending on the outcomes of those matches. The games will also decide the group standings and therefore the quarter-final match-ups.
Women – group D
Algeria did all they could to advance their place in the group in their games against Greece and China, reaching 4-3 and 8-6 respectively. Their fate will depend on the outcome of the final group game between Greece and Brazil on Thursday.
Men – group B
Josh Welborn and Calahan Young scored five goals each in the USA’s 13-3 win over Egypt.
The US men’s late 7-2 win over Canada then set-up an exciting final group B game for Thursday against Japan.
The USA are currently in fourth place on 10 points after three wins, one draw and two losses. Japan are just behind with nine points, meaning they need a win against their north American opponents.
Men – group A
As well as Sweden and China, Turkey and Algeria are in the running for a quarter-final place.
China will play Sweden, Turkey will face Lithuania and Algeria will play Australia for points.
While Argentina will not leave the group, they were delighted with their long-awaited first win of Malmo 2018 as they beat Australia 9-3.
The team first made waves when they drew 8-8 with Sweden on their World Championships debut on Sunday (3 June). Since then, despite not winning any of the games until today, they showed fantastic grit and enjoyed some spectacular moments of promise.
The group stages of the 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships take place from 3-7 June. The quarterfinals will get underway on 7 June before the medal matches on 8 June.
Matches are being played across two venues on the same complex - the Baltiska Hallen and Baltiska träningshallen. The medallists from both the men's and women's will qualify for Tokyo 2020.
A livestream and results are available at www.wcg18.se
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