Hosts Sweden returned to the court determined to make up for their draw against Argentina on the opening day at the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball World Championships in Malmo.
They made great strides on Monday (4 June), winning 13-5 over Australia and then beating Turkey 6-4 to move to second in the men’s group A.
In another of the top matches contested on the second day of competition, defending champions Brazil emerged victorious 6-3 against Germany thanks to three goals each from Leomon Moreno and Josemarcio da Silva Souza.
“The second half we didn’t do what we did in the first half and I’m a little bit sad about it,” Germany’s Michael Feistle said. “We can be proud that we could play at this World Championships. We played two good games yesterday [winning against Canada and the USA] and really, really good now against Brazil so we can be proud.”
Brazil kept a clean sheet in group B as they also beat Iran 7-4 earlier in the day.
In the women’s group C, two of the world’s best goalball teams went head-to-head as 2014 silver medallists Russia* overcame Paralympic champions Turkey 7-5.
Speaking to Disability Sports Network, Irina Arestova was not 100 per cent pleased with their performance: “Our plan was to play the whole game very calm, but there was a moment when we became a bit nervous and something was broken.”
Men - Group A
Debutants Argentina once again showed they are not to be underestimated.
‘The Moles’ scored two goals against Paralympic champions Lithuania in the first four minutes of their game.
Lithuania managed to level the score and pull the match back. However, like other teams before them at Malmo 2018, Argentina’s constant switching of their attack and defence caught their opponents off-guard.
Argentina’s Marcelo Sarmiento, the longest serving member of the squad, said: “I am very happy to be in the World Championships for the first time […] we are just gaining experience. I feel honoured that we can be a part of such an important competition.”
Justas Pazarauskas was the top scorer for Lithuania, contributing six goals to their 10-6 victory.
Lithuania’s Arturas Jonikaitis said: "After this game I feel happy, but anyway we have a lot of fighting in the future, so we did the best for now. Our team, we are fighters, we never give up. Everyone feels relaxed and only thinking about games when they are about to start.”
Argentina then lost 6-5 to African champions Algeria, who were also defeated by Belgium 8-2.
“We’re pleased with our results and are well on our way to reach our goal of qualifying for the quarter-finals,” Belgian player Tom Vanhove said.
Hu Mingyao scored seven of China’s goals in their 11-1 win against Australia.
Men – Group B
Defending bronze medallists the USA had a tense encounter with Iran. While the US team dominated the first half, the Iranians found a renewed determination in the second. Coming back from 8-4 down, the Asian team managed to level the score by the whistle to 8-8.
In the other group B games, the Czech Republic beat Egypt 11-3 in the first of their two games for the day. However their winning streak came to an end after they met Canada later in the afternoon.
The Canadians clawed their way back from a two goal deficit in the first half before fending off a charge from the Czech Republic in the second. With the score at 7-7 Blair Nesbitt scored the winner for Canada.
Japan also beat Egypt 10-0.
Women - Group C
Following their win over Turkey, Russia also played Japan in the final game of the day. A draw of 4-4 showed consistency from the Tokyo 2020 hosts, but Russia still lead group C.
Japan eased past Sweden 6-2, also in group C, despite the home crowd support.
Rounding off that group were Australia, who staged an impressive comeback against Israel from 4-1 down to win 7-5.
Women – Group D
The USA ground out a victory against China for the first time since the final of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
After scoring first, the US found it tough to penetrate the Chinese defence. China then responded just seconds before the whistle in the first half. Three more goals for the USA, including one penalty, followed in the second half. However China could only manage to find the next one more time.
The USA ran down the clock to finish with a 4-2 win. They then took on Algeria in their final game of the day, also winning 4-2 to top the group with no losses so far.
In the other group D games, Greece held Canada to a 2-1 score after two first-half goals. Konstantina Driva and Vasiliki Ago were the scorers for the Greeks.
Brazil took on Algeria, leaving with a convincing 8-2 victory.
A livestream and results are available at www.wcg18.se.
*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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