The expressway to Espoo has now led us to Malmö, Sweden, for the 2014 Malmö Men and Women InterCup.
This high level tournament is normally only for female teams but with so many nations wanting to compete prior to the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships, this year’s edition is also open to male national teams. Many of the competing nations who will not be in Espoo for the World Championships are using this as part of their own expressway to Eger. Eger, Hungary, is the location of the 2014 IBSA Goalball European Championships Men & Women B.
Men pool A contains Espoo bound Germany along with a trio of nations who will be all in Eger; Israel, Hungary and host nation of this tournament, Sweden.
Belgium and Ukraine are the two teams in Pool B who will be in Espoo. They are joined in their pool by Great Britain and Denmark.
On the female side, Pool A has Turkey, Finland, Spain, Great Britain, Ukraine and Belgium in it. While Pool B has USA, Denmark, Russia, Sweden and Israel. This is an unbelievable line up because seven of the eleven competing teams will be competing at the World Championships.
Looking a bit closer at the competing teams, Germany will be hoping to top Pool A as the highest ranked European team in this group. However this is the first warm up tournament that they are attending as a nation prior to the World Championships so it will be interesting to see how their preparations are going. Between Israel, Hungary and Sweden; these three teams will be all out to show that they deserve to be promoted back to the European A division come this September and no better way to do this than by dominating their competition this weekend.
Belgium and Ukraine will be hoping to build on their preparations for the World Championships. Belgium competed in their home tournament, the PaPa Champs, earlier this month where they placed 5th out of 7. Ukraine competed a week earlier in Vilnius, Lithuania, where they placed 7th out of 7. For both of these teams it was just the beginning of their lead up to worlds and with every journey one needs to start somewhere. The remaining two teams in this pool, Great Britain and Denmark, will be hoping for valuable match experience.
The top team to look out for in women’s Pool A is Turkey. They have been a very consistent team of late and have been developing at a great rate. Despite their lack of experience at the absolute top level, they will be out to cement themselves as one of the nations’ to look out for at the World Championships. Finland, in the same group, will also be keen to show that they continue to remain a major title threat.
USA, Russia, Sweden and Israel in group B joined by Denmark makes for an unbelievable group. USA and Russia have developed a little rivalry over the past few years at the Malmö Lady InterCup. These teams have had a few very tight and very hard fought matches. Throw the ever improving Israel into the mix and you have a very exciting pool and it still gets more tantalizing. Sweden and Denmark, two nations in a period of regrowth are in the mix and who knows how they will perform.
In summary, it is going to be a very exciting tournament and we can only be sure that there will be some great hard fought matches.
If you wish to follow the scores, follow the tournament on Facebook at www.facebook.com/malmointercup
and the official social media #tag is #intercup2014.