The results of the draw for the 2nd IBSA Euro Challenge Cup 2016, a development tournament for up and coming national teams in Europe, has been announced by the organisers.
The tournament will take place in Thessaloniki, Greece, from May 5th to 8th along with the Thessaloniki International Blind Football Tournament 2016.
Group A will see Georgia, Romania and Belarus face each other for one of the top two qualifying slots for the semi-finals, while Hungary, Moldova and Albania are the three teams in Group B.
The draw was based on the current IBSA World Rankings
Here’s a run-down on the six teams:
: currently sits in joint 29th position after making its international debut at the IBSA World Games in Seoul, South Korea, in May last year. The team has since played a few international friendly matches and will be looking to make its mark on the European blind football scene.
Caption: the Georgian national blind football squad lines up.
: finished 6th at the 1st Euro Challenge Cup in Prague in 2014 and will want to improve on this. Currently ranked joint 39th in the IBSA ranking table.
: making its return to the international fold following its one and only participation at the 2009 IBSA Blind Football European Championships in Nantes, France, where they finished in 9th position. Dark horses who have been playing blind football domestically for some years now and who could cause an upset.
Caption: Belarus players and staff at a recent IBSA training weekend.
: took 4th spot in Prague after losing to the Czech Republic in the semi-finals and then to Poland in the 3rd-4th place play-off. Sitting in 37th position in the IBSA ranking, they will be hoping their experience shows through.
Caption: Hungary attacks at the 1st IBSA Euro Challenge Cup in Prague in 2014.
: 5th in Prague and 38th in the IBSA ranking, Moldova have since played in several international friendly tournaments against neighbours Romania and teams from Russia.
Caption: Moldova vs Romania at the 1st IBSA Euro Challenge Cup in Prague in 2014.
: making its international debut in Thessaloniki, little is known about the squad, although Albania has been running domestic blind football tournaments for some years now. About to inaugurate a purpose-built pitch at a centre for the blind in Tirana, they could prove to be the surprise package at the tournament and are definitely a team to watch.
The 2nd IBSA Euro Challenge Cup 2016 in Blind Football is held thanks to support from UEFA and as part of the IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe.
IBSA would like to acknowledge support from Goalfix Sports Ltd
, which has donated a number of eyeshades for the tournament.
Caption: Goalfix logo.
Thessaloniki International Blind Football Tournament 2016
Five teams are confirmed for the tournament - Paralympic qualifiers Turkey, Russia and Morocco and club teams Blind Sports Union Pirsos and Girondins de Bordeauz from France. The teams will play each other in a round-robin group stage.