There are just 65 days to go until the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships in Madrid, Spain.
Mali are the second African country to qualify for Madrid 2018 after reaching the final of the IBSA Blind Football African Championships last October. The country are currently ranked 18th in the IBSA Blind Football world rankings.
Here are five things you should know about Mali in the build-up to the World Championships.
- Mali Blind Football was established in 2015 by both the Malian sports authorities and Libre Vue, who have been developing blind football in Bamako, the capital of Mali, since 2012.
- In the same year the national team was formed, they competed in the 2015 IBSA Blind Football African Championships in Douala, Cameroon, achieving bronze for the first time.
- At the 2017 IBSA Blind Football African Championships, the Eagles scored a grand total of twenty goals in the group stages, winning two out of three games to fly into the final against Morocco.
- They lost to Morocco 8-1, but they picked up silver, improving their podium finish from 2015 and qualifying for the World Championships for the first time in their history.
- Mail’s captain Mamadou Thiam, who shined at the 2017 IBSA Blind Football African Championships, will be the player to watch. His brilliance in attack could surprise some of the strongest defences in Madrid.
Follow the Mali national team’s maiden experience at the World Championships through their Facebook
The 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships will feature 16 of the world’s best teams. As well as the title on offer the competition is also an important step on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
After the Opening Ceremony on 7 June, the group stages get underway on 8 June. The quarter finals and play-offs begin on 13 June with the final taking place on 17 June.