The Special Olympics World Games football tournaments continued on Thursday in Dublin, with several European teams in action. However, it was El Salvador, beaten finalists four years ago, who caught the eye at the AUL in Clonshaugh by booking their place in the last four of the eleven-a-side tournament.
Talented Central Americans
The majority of this talented Central American side have been together since the age of eight and they showed the clear understanding that exists within their side by defeating Costa Rica 2-0 to ensure they topped their division. Geovann Quinanilla and Franklin Platerón scored the goals, although the most exciting player on show was tricky forward Gustavo Deros.
Uruguay only have 12 players with them this week, but that has not hindered their progress and they also look set for a place in the final four. However, hosts Republic of Ireland are struggling in a group that includes Uruguay, Great Britain and South Africa - three of the strongest sides in the tournament.
Saudi Arabia cruising
Uruguay are not the only South American side doing well in the North Dublin venue, with Ecuador proving difficult to beat in Division 2A. Meanwhile, at Belfield, Saudi Arabia remain top of Division 1 after a 9-2 victory over Azerbaijan. The Saudis have registered an impressive five wins from five games, scoring 31 times and conceding only four.
In a meeting of two sides searching for their first win, Germany were comfortable victors over Iceland with the impressive Jorg Weiss and Christian Linke in goalscoring form; Weiss in particular entertained the crowd with a spectacular somersault after each strike. However, the best goal of the day came from Iceland's Gudman Thorgennson who scored straight from the kick-off.
In the afternoon, China defeated Uganda, Spain held off St Kitts and Nevis while the outstanding Gibraltar side kept up their 100 per cent record by finally ending the unbeaten run of Australia. Great Britain were 3-2 winners over USA 2 in a lively encounter earlier in the day. James Molloy has been fantastic all week long for Alan Warren's British side and he was again the inspiration behind a hard-earned victory.
In the mixed competition, Cyprus look unstoppable after an 8-1 victory over Singapore. The women's competition looks like it will come down to a clash between the unbeaten Zimbabwe side and the equally impressive Great Britain 3 team who drew in their earlier match.
The eleven-a-side finals take place at Clonshaugh on Sunday while the next two days at Belfield will decide the destination of the five-a-side medals with final classifications to be clarified.
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