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IBSA Goalball European B Championships 2012 – Czech Republic men and Turkey women are victorious

Date: November 4, 2012

Category: Goalball

A dominant Czech Republic team defeated a gallant Belgium to be crowned men’s champions, while a determined Turkey overcame Germany to seize the women’s title.

Experience shone through at the IBSA Goalball B European Championships in Ascoli Piceno, Italy last week. Four of the six nations that were relegated to the B division at the end of the 2011 European Championships for A countries will return to the highest level, but they will be joined by some A division first-timers.

IBSA Goalball European B Championships – men's compeition

Even though on paper the results from the men’s division seem relatively straight forward, the end results do not reflect European rankings prior to the tournament. Czech Republic were dominant at last year’s C Championships and they brought this determination with them again this year. They swept through the pool and knock-out stages and won the final 7-2 against Belgium in convincing fashion; especially bearing in mind that Belgium had reached the Goalball quarter finals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Belgium were also undefeated at the end of the pool stage. Topping pool A with 12 points, they did have some close results, including a 9-7 win over Poland. They easily accounted for Hungary in their quarter-final but were seriously challenged by Ukraine in the semi-final. That match went to extra-time, with Belgium eventually winning 5-4.

The bronze medal match saw a replay of last year’s IBSA Goalball European C Championships – Ukraine v Israel – and this time it resulted in the same team coming out on top. Ukraine had scraped through their quarter-final match, winning 9-8 against Denmark, but they were out to prove they deserved one of the 3 tickets to the A championships. Ukraine showed the same strength that they had shown when they pushed Belgium all the way and were devastating against Israel, winning 14-6.

This sees Czech Republic, Belgium and Ukraine promoted to IBSA Goalball European A division. Belgium return after a disappointing end to last year’s A championships in Assens, Denmark. However, Czech Republic and Ukraine will go into these uncharted waters for the first time. It is quite unique that a team goes from C to A division within two years, a feat not achieved by many countries. Therefore, it makes it very special that two countries have done it at the same time.

At the other end of the scale, it was not certain until the very end of the pool matches which teams would be relegated to the C division. Pool B was relatively clear with Bulgaria ending without a win at the end of the pool stage. On the other side, it was far from simple in pool A with Russia, Poland and Italy all winning against each other.

During the final stages of the pool matches, Italy and Russia were both on 3 points and Poland were on 0. Poland’s only hope was to beat Russia in their final pool match and hope for a better goal difference than Italy. It was hometown heartbreak for Italy because Poland defeated Russia 11-10. This resulted in Italy ending 5th in their pool.

Russia and Poland ended on equal points and were forced into penalties to decide who ended 3rd or 4th in their pool because they also had the same goal difference. This play-off was won by Russia. Unfortunately, the luck stopped here for Russia. They lost their quarter-final to Israel and followed this up with a loss to Poland in the 5th-8th place play-off and finally lost the 7th-8th place play-off to Denmark.

These results mean that Russia, Italy and Bulgaria have all been relegated to IBSA Goalball European C division, while Israel, Poland, Hungary and Denmark remain B nations for another 2 years due to finishing the tournament in places 4th-7th respectively.

IBSA Goalball European B Championships – women's tournament

Experience shone through in the women’s tournament. The three nations that were relegated at the end of last year’s A championships have all played their way back into the top division of European Goalball. Throughout the round-robin there were some very close results and some excellent matches, too many to mention. Consistency did pay off in the end, with Turkey and Germany topping the group. They also easily accounted for their semi-final opponents – both teams winning with a 3-goal margin.

However, the final proved to be more of a battle with Turkey edging Germany out 3-2. Great Britain and Hungary were left in the bronze medal match to fight for that final podium position and a place in next year’s A championships. Hungary may be a young country in the world of women’s Goalball but they gave everything against an experienced Great Britain team, eventually going down 2-3.

Hence Great Britain returned, along with Turkey and Germany, to the elite level of European Goalball. Even the 5th-6th place match was a tight affair. The Netherlands were without a win at the conclusion of the round-robin but they were determined to go home with a win. Greece had won comfortably against the Netherlands in the group phase, but this was a whole new match. The match was level at the end of normal time and went into golden goal. Greece scored that vital goal during extra time which results in their being placed 5th overall, with the Netherlands in 6th place.

Highest goal-scorers – men

Denmark may have finished the tournament in 7th place, but they did leave the competition with a trophy because the top scorer belongs to Denmark. The top three scorers are as follows:

1 – Peter Troels, Denmark
2 – Lukas Valer, Czech Republic
3 – Marek Moscicki, Poland

Peter ended the tournament with a whopping 44 goals, fifteen clear of his nearest rival.

Highest goal-scorer – women

Unlike the men, the women’s highest goal-scorer podium positions reflected that of the podium positions of the teams with the following three players ending as the top goal-scorers:

1 – Sevda Altunoluk, Turkey
2 – Swetlana Otto, Gemany
3 – Jessica Luke, Great Britain

The top two women were also far ahead of the pack. They ended with 27 and 21 respectively, 9 clear of 3rd place who finished on 12.

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