USA continue dominance of Malmö Lady Intercup
Date: May 9, 2013
The USA Women’s Goalball team have been crowned victors of the 2013 Malmö Lady Intercup. This is the 7th time that they have taken the title in the tournaments 14 year history.
Before the tournament had even begun, it was clear that it would be an exciting tournament with many tense and close games. The USA were joined by other top teams including Paralympic gold medallist, Japan; host nation and Paralympic bronze medallist, Sweden and European silver medallist, Russia. Turkey, Israel, Brazil, Finland and Spain were the remaining nations who made up the tournament.
Many nations use the Malmö Lady Intercup to practise new tactics and techniques. It is also a great chance to give younger players experience at a higher level against other established nations.
Despite this, the standard and the quality of play is still extremely high and Pool A was a perfect example of this. Turkey and Israel were in this pool. Both of these nations have young teams who are on their way to the top of the sport. Alongside them was Sweden. Many of the players from the Swedish team from London have now retired and they were competing with a nearly whole new team with very little international experience between them. Brazil was the final team to make up this pool. They are currently building up their team and getting lots of experience with Rio 2016 in their mind.
Israel topped this pool after a very close match against Turkey. The new look Swedish team placed third after surprising themselves with a win against Brazil who finished up fourth.
Pool B was won by Japan who were expected to do well as current Paralympic champion. Second place was decided on goal difference due to both Russia and USA finishing on the same number of points. Russia snuck into second place with USA, Finland and Spain behind them.
After the pool stage, three semi-finals were played. 1st and 3rd from each pool against each other and the two second placed teams. The purpose of this was to divide the 9 nations into three pools to decide the final placings. The three semi-final winners played off for 1st to 3rd place, the three losers fought for 4th – 6th place while the bottom teams from each pool battled it out for 7th – 9th place.
The three semi-final winners were USA, Japan and Russia. All three coming from pool B. Japan were lucky to make it through. Sweden played Japan at their own game, a game built on extremely strong defence. In the end, they snuck through winning 2-1 in the last couple of minutes.
Finland, Brazil and Spain played for the final three spots. Even though Finland was there with many new players, it was expected to be a tough contest between Brazil and Finland for 7th place. Both of these teams may had been in Malmö to give unexperienced players a chance to play. Although it must be remembered that Finland lost the bronze medal match in London last year and Brazil also reached the quarterfinals at the Paralympics.
However, Brazil disregarded their lower Paralympic ranking and took 7th place after a tight battle with Finland.
Israel may have won against Turkey in the pool stages but the table was turned during the placing matches. Turkey crushed both Israel and Sweden to take 4th place. Israel finished 5th with only goal difference separating them from Sweden.
The defence of Japan hadn’t lost a match during the tournament up to this point but things were about to change. To everyone’s surprise they lost 5-1 to Russia and 3-1 to the USA leaving them in third place. The USA may had finished third in their pool but the experience of the USA means that they know when to play the big matches and win at the right time and that they did. They ran over Russia winning 9-3 and securing them another title.
Top scorer honours went to the ever strong Asya Miller of the USA and Sevda Altunoluk of Turkey. Altunoluk is a player to watch out for in the future after she also topped the highest goal scorer list at last year’s European B Championships. Both women finished with a grand total of 18 goals.