There is just one month until European powerhouses Spain get the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championhips underway in their capital city Madrid on 7 June.
The team are yet to achieve gold, and this year could be an even greater challenge for the hosts as the tournament increases from 12 to 16 countries.
But Spain are the only European country to reach a podium finish at a World Championships, and their stalwart striker Antonio Martín Gaitán is brimming with confidence that his country will achieve their dream.
Our objective is to fight for a podium finish as it always has been throughout history. We want to achieve our first ever World Championship gold and it would be tremendous to achieve this in our own country,” Gaitán said.
The 36-year-old striker has been part of the successful football 5-a-side
national team since 1999. He has won multiple European Championship and four World Championship medals alongside two Paralympic bronze with his country. Gaitán’s latest triumph includes silver with Spain at the 2017 IBSA Blind Football European Championships and collecting bronze at the Istanbul Cup in March along with the Player of the Tournament award.
Gaitán and his Spanish teammates will face Thailand in the opening game of the World Championships on Thursday 7 June. African champions Morocco and former European title-holders Turkey also join Spain alongside Thailand in group A.
“Blind football has evolved across the world and a lot of countries are well worked both tactically and physically, which will make it very complicated to score goals,” Gaitán continued. “Turkey is one of the countries in Europe that has evolved the most in recent years and England are physically very strong.”
Following the group draw in late April, Spain hosted a five-day training camp and faced England in two friendlies, losing one 2-0 and winning the other 2-1. Spain are currently in their penultimate training camp until 11 May and will complete their final camp from 22 May – 1 June before the World Championships.
The 2018 International Blind Sports Federation
(IBSA) Blind Football
World Championships will be held in Madrid, Spain, from 7-17 June, and 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.