Tomorrow, the 2015 IBSA Goalball European C Men’s Championship are scheduled to get underway in Malmö, Sweden. Group play takes place for the first two days of competition, with the semifinals, bronze medal and gold medal matches scheduled for Thursday. The top three finishers of this competition move up to the European B Men’s Championship for 2016.
Tomorrow, Greece takes on Great Britain at 1:00 PM local time in Malmö, Sweden. Italy plays Croatia at 3:00 PM. Both Great Britain and Italy will be back in action for the second game of the day, when they meet at 5:00 PM local time. The second day of competition sees Russia play Great Brtain at 12:00 AM, Great Britain taking on Bulgaria at 4:00 PM, and Croatia playing Great Britain at 6:00 PM. On Thursday, Great Britain plays Portugal.
The Bulgarian team includes Veselin Ivanov Kushnerenkov, Nikolay Valentinov Ignatov, Nikolay Ivanov Chonchorov, Ivaylo Valeriev Vatov, and Alexandar Atanasov Stoyanov. They are coached by Dobroslav Angelov Iliev and Stela Stefchova Stefanova is the team’s assistant coach. Ivan Dimitrov Yanev is the team’s escort. The team is currently ranked 52nd in the world, and is the lowest ranked team in the competition.
The British side was announced in mid-January and includes David Butler of Nottingham, Filmon Eyassu of Cambridge, Adam Knott and David Knott of Winchester, and Daniel Roper from RNC Hereford. Roper attends the Royal National College for the Blind. Faye Dale is the national team coach. Alex Bunney is the assistant coach. Claire Fielder is the team’s physio for the competition, while Dawn Newbery is the team leader. The team is ranked 18th in the world. While the highest ranked team in the competition, the team comes off a third finish at the 2014 FEDC International in Madrid, Spain where they lost to tournament victors 12th ranked Germany who beat them 11 – 1, though they defeated Greece 7 – 4. They also narrowly edged out Spain’s B team 9 – 8, and lost 9 – 4 to Spain’s A team. Butler and Eyassu made their national team debuts at the competition.
The Croatian roster includes Jozo Maric, Darko Golubić, Vanja Rajić, Kristijan Dodig, Tihomir Pišonjić, and Kristijan Knežević. They are coached by Matija Škoda. The team’s assistant coach is Nikola Topolovčan. The Croatians are currently ranked 37th in the world.
Skourmpoutis Ioannis, Chatzipantou Athanasios, Karamitsos Antonios, Alexiou Michail, Palialexis Dimitrios and Tatsis Grigorios make up the Greek roster. They are coached by Anastos Antonios. Sizopoulos Christoforos is the team’s assistant coach. Chatzistavridis Panagiotis is serving as the team’s escort. The team is currently ranked 43rd in the world. The Greeks were also at the 2014 FEDC International in Madrid, Spain. They lost to Great Britain 7 – 4. At the same competition, 5th ranked Spain men’s A team defeated Greece 9 – 3.
The Italian side includes Dario Merelli, Nicholas Emanuele Domenico, Salvatore Parisi, Gennaro Florio, Tapia Oney and Antonio Di Pasquale. They are coached by Angelo De Meo and Francesco De Meo. The Italian men were in training camp from January 15 to January 18 in Avellino to prepare for the competition. The team is ranked 32nd in the world. At the last European Men’s C Championships in 2013 in Great Britain, the team finished fourth after loosing to Russia 7 – 2 in the bronze medal match. The country went up to the B division for 2014, but are back down again in 2015.
Portugal’s team includes Hadiley Sacramento, Mário Cameiro, João Pereira, João Mota Sousa, Luís Míguel and Nuno Antunes. Paulo Fernandes is the national team coach, and is assisted by Duarte Correia. The team is ranked 41st in the world. At the 2013 European Men’s C Championships in 2013, Portugal defeated Russia 7 – 5 in the semifinals to qualify for the finals. The country went up to the B division for 2014, but are back down again in 2015.
The Russian team includes Sergey Avdoshkin, Alexey Sokolov, Dmitry Elin, Vladimir Borblik, Daniil Isay and Eduard Pambukhchian. They will be coached by Ilkam Nabiev. The team has a pair of assistant coaches, Aleksandr Melnikov and Igor Kozlov. The team has three escorts, Irina Arakcheeva, Sergey Tulaev and Iurii Kirichuk. The team includes players from across the country including Krasnodar, Moscow and Novosibirsk. They are relatively young, averaging 22 years old. The team is currently ranked 26th in the world. The team arrived in Sweden on Saturday and was on the court yesterday in Sweden, getting in another practice before the start of competition. At the last European Men’s C Championships, Russia won all the preliminary matches, but lost in the semifinals of Portugal 7-5. In the bronze medal match, they won 7 – 2 to capture bronze over Italy. The country went up to the B division for 2014, but are back down again in 2015.
All the teams were present in Sweden last night for the Opening Ceremony that featured a performance by singer Marie Andersson, and which Malmö deputy Mayer Andreas Schönström officially opened.