Football 7-a-side Intercontinental Cup draws top teams

Sixteen teams will fight for eight World Championship qualification spots on the pitch in Barcelona, Spain. 25 Jul 2013
Russia football

Russia's Eduard Ramonov celebrates on the football 7-a-side pitch after winning gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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By Tom Bestwick | For the IPC

“All the staff and players are excited and really looking forward to the competition and we will give it a really good go and you never know what will happen.”

Saturday (27 July) will signify the start of the CPISRA Intercontinental Cup, as football 7-a-side teams from around the world converge in Barcelona, Spain, for the first big tournament of the year.

Some of the world’s biggest names in football 7-a-side will be a part of the tournament, as the top eight finishers will qualify for the 2015 World Championships.

South American rivals Brazil and Argentina will go head-to-head in Group D, whilst Great Britain will face the London 2012 gold-medal winners, Russia, in their group as well as Ireland.

Tournament hosts Spain, who face the Netherlands, Scotland and Canada in Group A, have been faced with a lack of financial support over the past year – and as a result – have not been able to play in competitions in the build-up to the first big tournament of the year.

Spain’s head coach Ismael Sanz Esteban said: “Getting ready for this Intercontinental Cup has not been easy due to the lack of financial means and support from institutions, which is both necessary to face this challenge with guarantees.

“Even so, the team has worked extremely hard and we believe we can put on a decent performance. The sporting objective is to qualify among the top eight and obtain a spot for the world championship.”

Those financial difficulties haven’t stopped a flow of new talent entering the international fold for the Spanish team and the head coach pointed out that Raul Pacheco, Sergio Clemente and Ramon Del Pino will be players to look out for over the coming weeks.

Great Britain will head to the tournament looking to go one step further than they did in the tournament in Canada only a few months ago. British head coach Lyndon Lynchled his side to the final where they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Argentina in the final.

Lynch pointed out that his squad faces a tough battle to get out of the group and that is his team’s main target at the start of Cup.

“We have the Paralympic champions and a growing Venezuela team,” Lynch said. The last game against the Republic of Ireland will be key and a lot will go on how we cope with injuries.

“We have got to a few finals over the years, hopefully we can progress and can go one step further this time around.”

Northern Ireland, whose team was only formed in 2005, face the daunting task of playing Argentina, Brazil and Japan in Group D in what will be their first ever CPISRA competition. It gives a nation that only has 57 football 7-a-side players a chance to play against some of the top teams in the world.

Alan Crooks, the Northern Ireland head coach would love more than ever to defy the odds.

“We have a young squad, who are a bit naive in football terms with limited competitive football experience,” he said. “The 2013 Intercontinental Cup will give us a great opportunity to play the top countries in the world.

“All the staff and players are excited and really looking forward to the competition and we will give it a really good go and you never know what will happen.”

The groups at the CPISRA Intercontinental Cup will be split as follows:

Group A: Netherlands, Scotland, Canada, Spain

Group B: Russia, Ireland, Great Britain, Venezuela

Group C: Ukraine, USA, Australia, Portugal

Group D: Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Northern Ireland