Day 3 Recap: Newly promoted Greece proceeds to semis in Pajulahti
No one is surprised to see Russia, Turkey and Israel in semifinals of the women’s tournament in the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships in Pajulahti. Greece instead is somewhat surprising team in top four as they were promoted to the Division A from the third place of the Division B last year.
Greece has some experienced players and a very experienced coach Melpomeni Kessanopoulou and they now how to get the best out of them when it is needed. On Wednesday Greece overcame Great Britain 2–1 in a quarterfinal with two goals by Konstantina Driva.
– It wasn’t an easy match, the GB girls were very strong. But we really wanted to have this match and we did, said Driva.
Greece will meet Turkey in Thursday’s semifinal. The other semifinal match is between so far unbeaten Russia and Israel.
In men’s tournament Sweden beat Turkey 3–2 in a quarterfinal. It was a rematch from last year’s Paralympic quarterfinal from Rio which Sweden also won. Although Turkey has been one of the strongest teams in Europe in recent years, it seems that Sweden and especially Jimmy Björkstrand, who scored twice on Wednesday, are a real nightmare for the Turkish side.
– It’s always a hard game against Turkey, but we did really good job today, really good defence. That was a key to our success, said Björkstrand.
In the other men’s quarterfinals Germany beat hosts Finland 8–5, Belgium overcame Ukraine 8–5 and Paralympic gold medallist Lithuania won Czech Republic 6–3. Germany will meet Sweden and Lithuania plays against Belgium in Thursday’s semifinals.
Because Lithuania and Sweden already had places to the 2018 World Championships in Malmö before Pajulahti, the other semifinalists Germany and Belgium secured their places to the Worlds also as they are top two teams of the tournament yet to have tickets to Malmö.