The final of the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Championships will feature a clash between Paralympic and defending champions Brazil and Americas title holders Argentina following the semi-finals in Madrid, Spain, on Friday (15 June).
The final will take place at 12:00 (CET) on Sunday (17 June). It is set to be a fantastic face-off and a replay of the 2017 IBSA American Championships final, which Argentina won 2-1 on penalties.
Brazil beat Asian champions China 1-0 to book their place in the gold medal match.
In the first half China decided to focus on defending the Brazilian threats from Jefinho and Ricardinho rather than attack.
Brazil struggled to penetrate until the 18th minute when they were awarded a corner.
Ricardinho dribbled the ball towards his own half before he turned sharply and drilled it in-between two defenders from around eight metres out.
In the second half China stayed with their defensive tactics. Wei Jiansen did test Brazilian goalkeeper Luan de Lacerda Goncalves with shots but nothing found its way through.
A tense final 10 minutes followed but neither team threatened to score.
Jefinho said: “Of course it was a tough game as we expected. The Chinese team is an excellent team. They play very fast and are one of the top teams in the world. They made it tough for us, it was a very tough match physically. It was a tough game with a happy ending for us because we won. We’ve reached out first goal which was to qualify for the final. [China] were only sending forward one player but they were running forward very quickly. There were three players at the back that made it tough to score."
On facing Argentina in the final, Jefinho continued: “I think it will be similar to today’s game. Argentina are a stronger team but not as fast. For sure we’re playing against some dangerous players. Maxi [Maximiliano Espinillo], Nico [Veliz], Coque [Froilan Padilla] are all great players and they are very fast in defence and very fit. I think it will be like a game of chess.”
Argentina squeaked through to the final with a 1-0 win over Russia.
Angel Deldo scored his team’s lone goal in the 7th minute. Sensing a chance, he jumped to his feet after a fall in the area and scooped the ball over Anton Iakovalev’s head and into the roof of the net.
The rest of the half was goalless but the first whistle could not come soon enough for Russia as the Americas title holders relentlessly threatened their net.
In the second half Argentina kept up the pressure but both teams were keen to protect their goals. Russia’s Andrei Tikhonov gave his opponents a scare on more than one occasion when he was given too much space, but the attempts went wide.
But it was not to be for the European Champions and Argentina secured their place in Sunday’s final, again to the delight of their band of travelling fans.
Goalscorer Deldo said: “I am extremely happy. The same as every player I am looking to score and it was a great moment that I was able to give us the passport to the final. I don’t score much but when I did I remembered my parents, family and friends.
“We are very proud to have so many people from Argentina as part of the crowd. We knew it would be a tough challenge but the way we wanted to play was with an organised defence. It was a very different game to England [in the quarter-final] which was very physical. Today was more relaxed and we played better.
“We know we will have very tough rivals in the final and we are extremely prepared. Of course we want to win the World Cup and bring it back to Argentina.”
China will take on Russia in the bronze medal match at 09:30am on Saturday.
Argentina advance towards the goal in their semi-final against Russia
Colombia to face Spain for fifth
Colombia completed an impressive come-back over Morocco in their tie to determine who will play Spain for fifth place on Saturday (16 June).
Morocco thought they had the edge when Snisla Zouhair bagged a goal in the 7th minute. His first attempt was saved by the keeper but Snisla sniffed out the rebound to power the ball into the back of the net.
Colombia equalised just before half time with a great run from John Gonzalez. He won possession of the ball and then sent defender Sedki Mohamed the wrong way.
In the second half Gonzalez doubled Colombia’s score when his third effort on goal in 15 seconds finally payed off.
Any hopes of a Moroccan comeback were then ended when Imad Berka took Gonzalez down in front of goal. A penalty was awarded and Danilo Rincon capitalised to conclude the scoring at 3-1 to Colombia.
Teams go for 13th-16th places
In the morning matches four teams concluded their tournaments.
Emrah Ocal opened the scoring for Turkey as they beat Costa Rica 7-0 to claim 13th place.
Kahraman Kurbetoglu then fired home two goals in quick succession in the 15th and 16th minutes, before Ibrahim Uzum added another to close the first half. The second 20 minutes was all about the skills of star striker Hasan Satay, dismantling the Costa Rican defence to claim a hat-trick.
With that Satay also propelled himself to joint first place in the top scorers list with nine goals alongside Brazil’s Ricardinho.
Whilst Turkey were pleased with their strong performance, coach John Ball felt they could have reached a better finish overall in the tournament: “We should have been in a much better position when you think we have beaten Russia, France and Spain this year - Russia are in the semi-finals - we could have been there, that’s the disappointing thing at the end of the day. But football is what it is. We have to rebuild, we’ve started rebuilding now for the Europeans - that’s the third game towards the Europeans, rebuilding with three wins. If we’d have started like that, who knows.”
Goals from three separate players highlighted France’s 3-0 win over South Korea in the 15th place play-off.
France pushed their opponents’ defence very hard from the whistle. Martin Baron finally found the net for France when he turned the South Korean defence inside out and put away a super strike from the edge of the area in the 14th minute.
Gael Riviere followed just two minutes later with another shot from close range. Frederic Villeroux rounded off the French trio of goals in the second half with 10 minutes left of the game.
The 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships, featuring 16 teams, are the biggest in history. The competition has seen debuts for Mexico, Central American champions Costa Rica, Mali, European champions Russia, Thailand and Iran.
As well as the title, the winners of the sixteen-team tournament will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
All the games can be watched live at the official Championships website. Click here to view the full standings in the round-robin group stage.
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The banner for the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships