This morning’s match showed the true level of competition in Latin America as the two strongest countries, Brazil and Colombia, met each other for the first time. The match was dominated by high pressure defense from both sides and repeated breaches of the shot clock time limit, resulting in very few goals at half time (5-5). In the second half, Brazil managed gradually to take a lead of 9-12 just a couple of minutes before the final whistle, but miraculously Colombia came alongside, only to give away a goal with less then 20 second on the clock. The last long distance shot was a score however, and the first golden period in Latin America started. Brazil was the luckiest here, but the expectations have been set for tomorrow’s final, which will likely see these two countries playing each other again. (more later)
Brazil impressed most at the first day of the IKF Pan American Korfball Championship in Americana, S.P., Brazil. They beat the inexperienced Mexican team 40-7. Rivillini took most of the goals for Brazil, with Moreno of Mexico scoring 3. In the other match, Colombia also showed a strong performance well ahead of expectations, by beating the Brazil reserve team (Brazil B) by 24-15 in an unofficial match. Showing this performance, Brazil and Colombia are the clear favorites for Sunday’s final. They will play each other Saturday morning in the first round of the competition.
With less than 7 house to go until the first match, the anxiety is building up in the athlete hotel. Without any exception, this Championship is their first official international experience, albeit that Brazil played a friendly match in Portugal last year. Many have gone through great financial difficulty next to the required many hours of training, to get to Americana and participate in this event. All are extremely proud to be able to represent their country, and we are expecting to see quite a few suppressed tears when the first national anthems will be played at the venue. Emotions are a part of sport in any place, but here in Latin America, “Emotions” need to be written with a capital E.
Having said that, for the korfball watcher the most interesting fact coming out of this tournament will be the answer to the million-dollar question who will be the qualifier for next year’s World Championship. Apart from World Champion The Netherlands and host Belgium, the PanAm14 will decide the third qualified country, and the first-ever Latin American participant.
Since none of these countries have played each other before, it is hard to make a prediction. It is clear Mexico has the shortest history in korfball, and have only very recently been in touch with international coaches to start training to increase playing level. For sure, they are the outsider of the event and tonight’s match against Brazil will show how big the performance gap is with the country that has been the only one to travel to Europe. Brazil had an extensive and focused preparation, with the team spending two full weeks together in the last two weeks, forging a string and unified team with players from both Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states. Some of the players are local from Americana and for sure will receive wide support from the fans.
Colombia has had the opportunity of training with the best teams in the world around last year’s World Games tournament. The question is to what extent they will be able yo convert this experience into a sound performance on the floor this week. Today, Colombia will play an unofficial match against Brazil B, which has been scheduled in the event due to the inability of the Argentina Federation to overcome the financial problems that the country has been facing in recent weeks.
Tonight we’ll know more. Keep following us on korfball.org for updates, and follow the event on Twitter via #PanAm14!