European silver medallists Spain have won the Izola Goalball tournament in Slovenia as they gear up for the 2014 World Championships in Espoo, Finland next month.
It was divided into two groups of 10 teams with tournament favourites Finland, who were crowned Paralympic champions at London 2012, joined by the highly consistent Czech Republic as the seeds in Pool B, while Paralympic and European bronze medallists Turkey joined Spain as the seeds in Pool A.
Hosts Slovenia, Kosovo and Azerbaijan completed Pool B with Croatia, Italy and Hungary making up the final three in Pool A.
Spain were eventual winners in the competition as they overcame a strong Czech Republic side in the final.
The Spaniards looked in control from the off as their trusty defence refused to bow to any Czech pressure.
The result left Spain leading 3-0 by halftime as their strong back line continued to frustrate their opponents.
A higher intensity graced the second half in both camps as the Czech Republic looked to bridge the gap, however, the deficit was never fewer than three as Spain ran out 9-6 victors come the final whistle.
The result puts the team in great stead coming into the World Championships next month as they look to do one better than last year's European Championships, where they lost in a penalty shoot-out to reigning world champions Lithuania in the final.
After a disappointing loss to Spain in the semi-finals, Finland were left empty-handed in Slovenia as they were beaten by Turkey in the bronze medal play-off.
The team had been favourites coming into the tournament but failed to perform when it mattered as they succumbed 7-5 to the Turks, who repeated the result from London 2012 where they denied Lithuania a place on the podium.
The four seeded teams in the competition, Spain, Turkey, Finland and Czech Republic, each made it comfortably through to the knockout phases after heavy wins over the rest of the pack.
Espoo is due to stage the Goalball World Championships from June 26 to July 6.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
May 2014: Lithuanian goalballers continue fine form with win at Parantee Championships
December 2013: IBSA holds official draw for 2014 Goalball World Championships
September 2013: Finland aiming for the best World Goalball Championships ever
October 2012: Finland to host 2014 Goalball World Championships