Japan is set to host some of the world’s top blind football nations at the second edition of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Grand Prix in Tokyo from Tuesday (19 March).
All the games will be shown live and the schedule is available on Youtube.
The tournament serves as preparation for this year’s regional Championships as well as the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. With the teams ready to go, here are five things you should know.
1. The 2019 IBSA Blind Football World Grand Prix is organised by the Japan Blind Football Association (JBFA) and will be hosted at the Shinagawa-Ku Tenno Park in Tokyo.
2. This year’s Grand Prix tournament will expand to eight teams from the previous six. Debutants Thailand are in Group A with Russia, Japan and Spain whilst newcomers Colombia will join Argentina, England and Turkey in Group B. Both Colombia and Thailand are expected to finish strong after impressive performances at last year’s IBSA Blind Football World Championships in Madrid, Spain.
Japanese captain Ryo Kawamura takes on England defence during 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Grand Prix
3. Argentina won the first Grand Prix in 2018 after defeating England 2-0 on penalties in the final. Maximiliano Espinillo and Micolas Veliz converted from the six-metre penalty spot to take the title to Buenos Aires. The reigning champions will take on Thailand at 11am local time on Tuesday.
4. Last year Argentina’s renowned defender Padilla Froilan claimed the Most Valuable Player award whilst Maximiliano Espinillo attained Top Goal Scorer with four goals. Goalkeeper Dairo Lencina won Best Goalkeeper. England’s captain Dan English received the Most Important player award and Turkey’s Hasan Satay was rewarded the Tanaka Great Effort award.
5. Argentina will be brimming with confidence to defend their title after finishing runners-up to Brazil at the World Championships and winning the Tango Cup against Japan last year. European giants England, Spain and Russia will be strong contenders to challenge the reigning champions for the title.
Keep up to the date with the results from the World Grand Prix on the JBFA’s Facebook
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