Defending champions Japan and China opened their 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball Asia-Pacific Championships campaigns with wins on Thursday (5 December) in Chiba, Japan.
Full results can be found at www.gb-aprc.com/schedule
and live coverage is available each day at IBSA’s YouTube channel.
The hosts’ women were on fire at the Chiba Port Arena, doubling up on victories.
However despite delivering a convincing 10-0 triumph over debutants Indonesia in the morning, Japan faced a more challenging tie against Thailand later in the day.
A tense first half ended 1-1 following goals from Japan’s Masae Komiya and Thailand’s Yada Jaengsawang.
Haruka Wakasugi handed Japan the lead just six seconds into the second half, but the advantage was taken away once again by Jaengsawang. It took Wakasugi a further six minutes to find the back of the net again. Her side managed to hold on for a narrow 3-2 win.
The Chinese men, defending their title from Bangkok, Thailand, in 2017, eased past Indonesia 17-7.
Six goals each came from Mingyuan Yang and Liang Chen as China peppered the Indonesian line.
The Chinese women also got off on the right foot in their quest to improve on their silver medal from two years ago.
They claimed their own hefty win against Thailand, bagging 11 goals to their opponents’ 3. Chunhua Wang starred in their attack, scoring five goals.
Elsewhere in the women’s defending bronze medallists Australia got their first win under their belts against South Korea thanks to four goals from Meica Horsburgh and one from Brodie Smith.
In the men’s Iran – who are the only other team to have claimed the regional title since the competition began in 2010 - enjoyed a 26 goal thriller against Thailand.
2017 runners up Iran had to come back against their rivals after Buncha Fankhamai netted three goals in the final minute of the first half to hand Thailand the lead.
The Iranians had to come out fighting after the whistle, scoring 11 goals to stun Thailand who could only manage two in reply. The final score was 16-10 to Iran.
Mohammad Soranji Estarki was Iran’s Most Valuable Player with six goals overall.
Japan and Australia also secured opening wins on the first day.
Japan’s Ryoga Yamaguchi scored half of his team’s goals in their 8-2 victory over South Korea.
Jon Philip Horsburgh was the hero for Australia, finding the back of the net nine times to hold-off Indonesia 11-8.
Round-robin play continues in Chiba on Friday (6 December) as teams go for the title and qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The semi-finals then take place on Monday (9 December) ahead of the medal matches on Tuesday.