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Thrilling goalball in Incheon

Date: October 23, 2014

Category: Goalball

Day four of the 2014 Asian Para Games started with the men semifinals.
First on the program was Iran and Japan in a replay of last year’s IBSA Goalball Asia/Pacific Championships. Iran won that match very easily but this time it would prove to not be so simple. Iran made their first goal after just 24 seconds following a high ball penalty. Iran didn’t need to wait long for their second goal. This time it was Jafari’s turn to score with a flyer. After these two quick goals, the scoring settled down until the end of the first half. Iran scored their third goal followed by Japan’s first. However Japan couldn’t celebrate for long because Iran scored their fourth off a quick return. This last goal was just before half time. Early in the second half both team’s scored a goal. Then it remained quiet until half way through the half. Japan was able to score off a high ball penalty. After this Japan was able to score two more goals to bring the difference down to one. This woke up the Iranians and they were able to score two quick goals to take it to 7-4. The next two goals belonged to Japan after some good court movement and it was back to a one goal difference. Finally the next two goals were for Iran and they took the match 9-6.
If this wasn’t exciting enough, the second semifinal was even more thrilling. China and Korea were the two teams to create all the entertainment. It was the hosts who kicked off the scoring in the first minute with a bounce ball. It was not until the mid-way point of the first half before China was able to equalize off a high ball penalty. Korea nearly scored again nearly immediately after this but some great tracking of the ball from the Chinese men was able to prevent the ball from going in. China then finished off the half with three more goals largely scored with bounce balls.
Korea started the second half with great enthusiasm and within 1:20 of play Korea had made two quick goals. After this for each time that one team scored, the other replied. China was never able to pull way and always was staying just ahead. With 3 minutes to go Korea had a chance to equalize on a high ball but was unable to do so but less than a minute later they did equalize in regular play with a well placed shot. Half this really inspired the Koreans who scored again half a minute later to take the lead for the first time in the match. With less than two minutes to go luck or bad luck played a part in China equalizing again when a ball bounced off the goal post, collided with the player on the wing and bounced into the goal. With around a minute to go, Korea made sure that the match would go into extra time after retrieving a ball from the goal line.
Extra time was pretty quiet with neither team willing to make a mistake. There was only one ball that was defended over the goal early in the first half of overtime.
This led us into extra throws. Both teams scored on the first series of throws. Then both teams defended. Then the stalemate was broken when China was able to score but Korea could not. China was able to keep their nose in front by one goal throughout the series of throws because neither team could score until the last throw. China scored once more to put themselves two ahead and win the match 11-9.
The two final matches of the day were two more female matches in the round robin which were both won easily. China defeated Thailand 11-1 and Iran defeated Korea 9-2.
The schedule for the final day is the bronze medal match between Korea and Japan on the mens side followed by the gold medal match between China and Iran.
The women are not playing finals. It is based on the results of the round robin. However, as it turns out the final round robin match between China and Iran will determine the winner because both of these teams are undefeated. The winner will take the prize.
Standings – women:
Iran 3 0 0 24 5 9 19 7
China 3 0 0 21 2 9 19 16
Japan 1 0 2 3 6 3 -3 -3
Korea 1 0 3 6 18 3 -12 -5
Thailand 0 0 3 3 26 0 -23 -15

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