- Date: 12-09-2019
- Related to: Football
By Sarah Nasir | For IBSA
As European teams gear-up for the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football European Championships, in Rome, Italy, countries have their eyes set on securing the title and qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Although excitement is building for the competition between 16-23 September, for Germany, the overwhelming feeling is one of concentration and dedication.
Germany will take on defending champions Russia and hosts Italy alongside Spain, England, France, Turkey, Belgium, Romania and Greece.
“Of course we are already looking forward to the European Championship,'' said German team captain Alexander Fangmann. “Meanwhile, we are a very experienced team. Therefore, we are not excited, but rather focused and prepare ourselves specifically for the tournament. Our goal is to reach the semi-finals and then catch a creamy day to possibly even make it into the finals and make the dream of the Paralympics come true. Each team will compete with this great goal. We have invested a lot again to finally reach it.”
Fangmann made his international debut when Germany entered the Euros for the first time in 2007 in Athens, Greece.
He continued, “Our coaching team worked intensively for and with us. New findings from the video analysis, new training methods, individual technical and tactical skills have been improved. In addition, we have played many games since the last European Championship 2017 in Berlin under new coach Peter Gößmann and achieved a good overall balance”.
It has now been 13 years since Germany made their first foray into international competition. In 2014 they played at their first World Championships. With football being most one of the most popular national sports and having an ambitious team, they await the chance of greater success that will take them to the next level.
“In Germany football is number one. Of course, all fans would be happy if we achieve good results internationally. But most of all we would be happy ourselves. For blind football in Germany, a good result would be a milestone, a next leap on the way to more professional structures. Only with professional structures can you stay competitive internationally in the long term.”
With attention turning to Rome over the next few weeks to where the Germans want to make the next stride, which countries do they think could stand in their way?
“There are four or five teams who certainly have the potential to reach the final,” Fangmann said. “England is very structured, physically very strong and very good at the gate. They still have very good goalkeepers. Russia is incredibly disciplined and committed. They play very well together as a team and have a good defense. Spain is always one of the favorites. They play creatively, shoot a lot on goal and have experienced and young players in their team. Somewhat behind, we see France and Turkey, although these two teams have a lot of experience and make it hard for any opponent.
“And sometimes the host is also particularly dangerous with the fans in the back, so maybe Italy is a small secret favourite for the semi-finals.”
The 2019 IBSA Blind Football European Championships will see teams from across the region going for the title in Rome.
In addition, the finalists will secure a place at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.