Groups drawn for 2018 World Intellectual Impairment Sport World Football Championships
The group draw for the 2018 International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments was held in host city Karlstad in Sweden on Friday (20 April).
Hosted by ex-national midfielder Stefan Schwarz, the draw saw eight teams and the opening fixture decided.
Hosts Sweden will play Germany in their opening match. They are joined by South Africa and France in group A.
Group B is made up of defending champions Saudi Arabia, European title holders Poland, Japan and Russia.
Schwarz, who is also an ambassador for Karlstad 2018, said: “The draw is amazing because it’s quality games, all of it, and it’s the top nations in the world. It’s going to be very competitive games. Everyone must prepare in the best way because there is no opportunity for mistakes.
“It will hopefully be a football festival as well because at that time of year, Tingvalla is a fantastic place. I hope with the nice weather and nature around as well will bring a lot of football fans to participate to give the teams the support they need.”
On the morning of the draw Schwarz also went to check-out the Swedish team’s preparations at a training session.
“We are only in April so there is still four or five months to develop and get better as a team. What I saw today was amazing, high quality, a lot of skills,” he said of the national team. “But what most impressed me was their play on the big open field. The timing, the change of position, the depth, was very impressive. How they work as a unit together. They are looking good, looking strong, it’s a couple months still to improve.”
Karlstad 2018 will take place from 5-18 August.
Players will get to experience five stadiums across four different cities – Karlstad, Kil, Arvika and Kristinehamm.
In Karlstad the Tingvalla idrottsplats and Orsholmen’s idrottsplats will host group matches.
Group matches will also be held in Sannerudsvallen, Solviksvallen and Sannaheden stadiums in Kil, Arvika and Kristinehamm respectively.
The semi-finals will be held on 14 August at Tingvalla as well as the third place game and final on 18 August.
One more team, Argentina, may also compete. A separate draw for which group they will join will be held once the team have confirmed their participation. World Intellectual Impairment Sport and the organisers want to give as many teams as possible the chance to take part in this event.