December 12 - The draw for the 2014 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball World Championships has taken place in Helsinki, launching the official countdown to the showpiece event, set to take place in the Finnish city of Espoo.
The home men's team, the current Paralympic champions, were picked in a tough pool A, where they will face both the African and Asia/Pacific champions - Algeria and Iran respectively, as well as the Czech Republic, who have put up a tough challenge so far this year.
The United States, Spain, Germany and Ukraine complete the pool A line up for the competition, which is scheduled for June 26 to July 6 next year.
The men's pool B, meanwhile, sees European champions Lithuania up against London 2012 silver medallists Brazil and bronze medallists Turkey.
The remaining teams are Canada, Egypt, Japan, China and Belgium.
In the women's competition, the hosts will face London 2012 gold medallists Japan, Russia, the US, Turkey and Germany in pool A.
"[It is a] tough group," said Finnish women's head coach Heikki Juvonen.
"There's for example the reigning Paralympic champions Japan and the European champions Russia and runner-up Turkey."
Paralympic silver medallists and Asia/Pacific champions China feature in pool B along with London 2012 bronze medallists Sweden, Iran, Brazil, Ukraine and Israel.
"Goalball is a global sport," said Kari Marklund, Swedish chair of the IBSA Goalball subcommittee, following the draw.
"It is played in almost a 100 countries around the world.
"These twenty countries are the elite."
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