Poland and Saudi Arabia both strengthened their chances of advancing past the group stages of the 2018 International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments (INAS) Football World Championships with wins on Wednesday (8 August).
Playing at the Sannersrudsvallen in Kil, Sweden, Poland took on Russia followed by defending champions Saudi Arabia against Japan.
Poland emerged the victors from a tense tie against Russia, winning 4-2.
An incredible long-range free-kick into the area from Poland’s Adam Frackzek was bundled into the goal by Rafal Szkatula in the seventh minute.
Two more goals followed in quick succession later in the half. Piotr Krawczyk and Pawel Michalski scored within two minutes of each other to bring the score to 3-0 at the first whistle.
Russia tried to stage a comeback in the second half. A complacent Polish defence allowed Ivan Romanov through on goal to strike in the 50th minute. Super-substitution Alexey Andrei then scored within three minutes of being on the pitch to bring Russia within touching distance of their opponents.
But Poland successfully took the edge off the Russian charge thanks to another goal – Poland’s fourth and last – from Szkatula.
“I feel very great. I am very proud [of scoring two goals],” Szkatula said. “We are still fighting going into the last game and of course, we hope the final.”
Saudi Arabia continued their unbeaten run in their game against Japan – but only just.
After a goalless first half that saw chances come and go for both sides, Saudi Arabia grabbed the lead in the 73rd minute.
Captain Abdallah Al Dosari buried a cross from Faraj Qausam Jayzani.
“We did everything that we could to win this match but it was difficult,” Al Dosari said.
About the 2018 INAS Football World Championships
Teams will play in two groups of four ahead of the semi-finals on 16 August and final on 18 August.
Group A features Sweden, France, Germany and Argentina. Saudi Arabia, Poland, Japan and Russia are in group B. All teams in group A will be awarded a 3-0 scoreline for fixtures against South Africa after their late withdrawal.
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