Brazil and Russia* triumphed at the 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, on Friday (8 June), winning the respective men’s and women’s titles with impressive performances.
More than 1,000 goals were scored by 28 men’s and women’s teams over the five-day tournament.
Brazil 8, Germany 3
In the men’s, Brazil retained their title against a strong German side.
Germany drew first blood with a screaming strike from Oliver Horauf that went straight into the corner of the Brazilian net.
But Brazil did not back down, thanks to an awesome strike from Leomon Moreno after a tactical time-out. Another goal followed shortly after, deflecting off the German defence and into the back of the net.
Germany's Michael Feistle finally hit the target with one of his signature strikes just before half-time to level the score 2-2.
Horauf added another goal for Germany in the second half, but Brazil quickly responded. Once again Moreno was the scorer for a hat-trick to catch-up with the Germans once again. Moreno then struck twice more to give his team a two goal lead.
Thomas Steiger was substituted for Felix Rogge as Germany tried to inject some fresh fire power into their attack.
However, they conceded another penalty which proved to be the turning point.
With the score at 8-3 and the clock ticking down, the German heads dropped and Brazil had won the psychological battle. Brazil successfully retained their title from four years ago.
“This is a very special moment and this is a result of our training in Brazil,” Moreno said after the game, clutching his men’s Top Scorer trophy with 44 goals. “All the time we believed we could win. We came to this competition believing for ourselves we could do it again, based on our structure, our training, all the people involved, putting their dreams into this tournament and reaching their goal.”
Germany were also delighted with silver. Stefan Hawranke said: “I think it was a fantastic game for us. We are a very young team, I think the youngest team here in this tournament and it was a big chance to play the final in the World Championships. It was a very good game.”
Russia 4, Turkey 3
Russia won their first women’s world title after a tense tie with Paralympic champions Turkey, improving on their silver medal from 2014 in Espoo, Finland.
An enthralling first half featured a huge amount of energy and attacking play from both sides.
Russia got two on their scoresheet courtesy of a double from Irina Arestova in the opening 12 minutes. But Turkey came out fighting in the second half. Sevda Altunoluk scored two to bring the score level.
In the second half, a penalty by Anna Schevchenko after a high ball from Turkey saw Russia take the lead. Turkey then had one awarded in turn but failed to capitalise.
A few moments later, Zeynap Cikla powered a shot through her opponent’s defence to equalise once again. Russia fought back however, scoring what turned out to be the winning goal from Arina Gerasimova.
Despite two late substitutions from Turkey, the match ended 4-3 to the 2014 silver medallists. There was however joy for Altunoluk as she won the women’s Top Scorer trophy with 46 goals over all.
Bronze medal winners
Brazil reached their best ever finish at a World Championships in the women’s bronze medal match, claiming the final podium place with a 7-2 win against Canada.
Ana Carolina Custodio rolled out the throw which has become known as the ‘Brazilian Special’ to score five of Brazil’s seven goals.
Custodio reflected on her team’s performance after the match: “The Canadian team is not an easy team to beat. They are very strong also in women’s goalball. We just think about defence all the time. And also the movie [in our minds] of every situation we pass to reach this tournament to be here now, all of the difficult situations to be here to reach our goal.”
Belgium beat Paralympic champions Lithuania 9-2 to the final podium spot in the men’s.
All three of Belgium’s starting three found the back of the net in the first half. Rob Ejissen, Bruno Vanhove and Klison Mapreni all got on the board before Mapreni added another before the whistle.
Lithuania did manage to get respond in the second half as Marius Zibolis and Justus Pazarauskas threaded shots through the Belgian defence. But three more goals for Belgium from Vanhove and Mapreni ended any Lithuanian hopes of a comeback.
Belgium were especially pleased with punching their ticket to Tokyo 2020. They missed out on the last Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Tom Vanhove said: “I can’t describe it. It’s a feeling I have longed for since 2012 [when they last qualified for a Paralympics at London 2012] and once again we qualify. We came here with hopes to have a good results but we never thought we would qualify directly for the Paralympics.
“We played game by game. We won almost every game except for this morning [semi-final against Germany]. We can look back at a great tournament and I can thank the whole team because everybody is one important piece of the team.”
Adele Markevicute, Lithuanian coach, said: “I would say that a good game was the semi-final against Brazil and now it was not a good game because we couldn’t concentrate and play our game.”
“We knew their weak characteristics in defence but I have to admit they were really good in defence today as well. They also had a difficult game today. But now even if we managed to make really good throws, they worked really well in defence and I think that was the key to their success.”
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.
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