Japan and Argentina Manage Wins to Open IBSA Blind Football World Grand Prix

TOKYO – Japan got off to a perfect start at the IBSA Blind Football World Grand Prix on Wednesday, managing a win in the opener. They were joined in the winners circle by Argentina, to open the historic tournament, a first step on Japan’s road to the 2020 Paralympic Games which will also be hosted in Tokyo.

Japan took on England in the opening game of the tournament and got off to a perfect start opening the scoring in the 14th minute leading to optimism of a strong result. But that excitement was quickly extinguished as England managed through the appropriately named Dan English following a great run from his own half one minute later.

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Morocco Claims 2017 African Blind Football Championship

Morocco IBSA Africa
Moroccan players celebrate their title (Photo: Morocco Blind Football)

PRAIA, Cape Verde – Morocco has defended its African Blind Football Championship managing a big 8-1 win against Mali to claim the continental championship yet again on Sunday afternoon.

It was a dominant win for the Moroccans which continued to be the strongest team in African Blind Football by some margin. Morocco just exploded in the match for its strongest win of the tournament, pacing itself well through the tournament before butting in its best performance in the final.

The third place match took place on Saturday afternoon with the home crowd being left disappointed as Egypt claimed the bronze medal with a 5-2 win over Cape Verde. The match just got away from Cape Verde in the second half, with the score at half time 2-2 following the first ever first half goals from Cape Vede, one coming from the spot. But from there Egypt took fire scoring three goals in the second half to claim third place, an encouraging win for the Egyptians.

Morocco was dominant through the group stage as it looked to defend its title with an undefeated record through the group stage. The Moroccans conceded just one goal during the group stage, winning all three matches by hefty margins, with Cape Verde making it tight with a 3-0 win for Morocco in the final group stage game.

Mali may have lost to Morocco in the group stages but went to the final with the most impressive goal difference after a pair of dominant wins against the two other teams in the group. Mali smashed Egypt 7-1 in the final group stage game to finish with a  goal difference of 16.

By making the final, both Mali and Morocco will qualify for the IBSA Blind Football Championship in 2018 as the African qualifiers, with Morocco looking for a strong performance again.

European Blind Football Championship Draw Announced

The European Blind football Championship has had their match draw set as the IBSA Football Committee made the draw on Friday afternoon for the event in Berlin which starts in August.

There will be just one match on the first day of competition as the hosts Germany opens the tournament against Italy. The Germans will go in to that match as the favourites, and are in as one of the favourites for the whole tournament.

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Japan win First Ever Women’s Blind Football Tournament

Japan celebrate their win (Photo: IBSA)

The first ever women’s blind football tournament was held in Austria this weekend and Japan claimed the win in an historic weekend for 5-a-side football.

Japan won the title by beating an IBSA select team, essentially a European all-stars team as they managed the lone goal in the match. That came through their star Kimushima who scored in the second half, her sixth goal in four matches.

The tournament was played over the weekend in a round-robin with Japan and IBSA Select competing against hybrid teams from across Europe. England/Greece and Russia/Canada made up the rest of the field after a memorable weekend for blind football.

The third place match was between the two hybrid squads, and in a rare football moment, England won a penalty shootout. After a scoreless draw England/Greece defeated Russia/Canada 1-0 on penalties to claim third place.

Japan came through the whole tournament without conceding a single goal, they were always the favourites going in to the tournament. The other teams had never played together until Thursday so the IBSA select giving Japan such a tight match is impressive.

Capping a training camp, the tournament served as the first step in a development plan for IBSA to develop women’s blind football. Currently only men’s blind football is a Paralympic sport and this camp could be the first step to seeing women’s football added.

60 women participated in the first ever IBSA women’s football camp with players from as far as Mexico making the trip to Austria. UEFA’s support helped to fund the project which has begun the process of women’s blind football development.

Romania wins European Blind Football Second Division Championship

Romania celebrate their victory (Photo: IBSA)

Romania has won the Blind Football European Second Division in their home
tournament to send them to the European Championships high on confidence after claiming the win on Saturday.

The final was won 1-0 by Romania in an entertaining match against Georgia to cap a phenomenal performance for the team. The only goal of the match was scored by Botez, who had a good tournament throughout, deserving the tournament winning goal. Both sides will now compete in the European Championship later in the year.

In the other major match on the final day of play saw Greece claim the third place medals as they cruised past the Czech Republic. It was a phenomenally entertaining match but eventually Greece came away 5-2 winners.

Fifth place was claimed by Albania in what was a tight match between Albania and Ireland with the Albanians winning 1-0. Dervishi scored the winning goal, and created history for his side, as they won their first ever match.

Semi-finals were played in Bacau on Friday with Romania and Georgia the winners in two matches with very different stories. Romania cruised through to the final by defeating the Czech Republic 4-1 with Kovacs scoring all four goals in one of the best performances in the whole tournament.

The other semi-final was an absolute nail-biter as Georgia and the Czech Republic couldn’t be separated in a tight match that ended scoreless. Weather conditions made the match difficult for both sides, and for spectators, but in the end Georgia nailed their penalty, enough to get the win and advance to the final.

Bacau was a phenomenal host of the tournament, the first division two tournament, which was regarded as a big success, reflecting the growth of the sport.

Romania to Host IBSA European Qualifier

Romania will be hosting its first International Blind Football Federation (IBSA) international tournament in April. IBSA announced on Saturday that Bacau, Romania would be hosting the Blind Football European Qualifier and Division 2 Championships from April 1st to 9th.

The top two teams in the competition will advance to the European Championship in summer, which will be held in Berlin, Germany. Teams will be given all accommodation, hotels, meals and transport encouraging teams to join.

All European IBSA member countries who have not already qualified for the European Championship are eligible to enter. Those countries that are not eligible are Turkey, Spain, Great Britain, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, and Belgium who are all already qualified.

The event will double as the European Division 2 Championship, this will be the first ever time that IBSA is hosting a Division 2 Championship. That decision reflects the growth of blind football in Europe and will expand the European Championships to 10 teams.

Currently there is no number set of the teams that are allowed to compete in the event, with IBSA suggesting that it is open to whatever number of teams apply. It remains to be seen how many teams that will be but IBSA has focused on growing the sport in European countries that do not have strongly established teams.

The event will be hosted by TNT Club Sport, which will be also providing the accommodation for the competing teams. The matches will be host at an all-new all-purpose sports centre making this the first major event at the venue in the north east of the country.

First Qualifiers Named for 2017 IBSA Blind Football European Championship

The qualification path for the 2017 IBSA Blind Football European Championships has been outlined for the tournament in Berlin next year. Ten teams will take part in the tournament next August with the first eight places already decided IBSA announced on Monday.

The first eight qualifying places will go to the top eight teams from the European Championships held in Hereford in 2015. That will see Turkey, Russia, Spain, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Belgium all qualify automatically for the tournament.

The two teams that miss out from the 2015 tournament are Portugal and Greece and both will now have to go through a qualifying tournament. That qualifying tournament will award the final two places in the European Championships for 2017.

That tournament will be open to the two 2015 teams along with any IBSA affiliated team that meets the relevant criteria. Presumably one of those criteria is being a European nation, although it would not be unheard of for a non-European team to compete to make the tournament stronger, Australia played in the CP Football European Championship recently for instance.

That tournament is tentatively scheduled for April 2017, three months ahead of the final tournament that this qualifying tournament will finalize. The tournament host will be announced on the first of December, with the teams required to have expressed their interest in participating by the 15th of November.