Defending bronze medalists Egypt are up for a challenge as they prepare to compete at the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football African Championships in Enugu, Nigeria, from 22 November.
As well as the title, the winners will also secure a place at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Egyptian team captain Khaled Mahmoud Awad is filled with confidence ahead of the Championships:
“The Egyptian Blind Football Association is very excited for the event. Like every team, our goal is to win and qualify for Tokyo 2020. We have trained continuously with open and closed training camps. Therefore, we don't see the reason why we should not be able to win the title.”
Caption: poster for the 2019 IBSA Blind Football African Championships.
Egypt’s rise to one of the top teams in Africa has been swift. On their regional championship debut in 2015 they finished sixth only to return two years later and grab the bronze.
However, it has not been an easy task. Awad describes their journey as “long and arduous”, especially because they have not yet been able to play at the World Championships or Paralympic Games.
Despite this, the love of the game in Egypt is growing. The team has been using all available avenues to raise awareness.
“The media has been very beneficial in promoting the sport and the team,” Awad said. “We are able to reach out to our fans with the assistance of social networking sites.”
As for who could stand in the way of Egypt’s ambitious plans to reach the highest heights, Awad is playing his cards close to his chest:
“Our team serves and respects all the differences. Thus, we don't see anyone specifically as competition. Every team has their own strategy and game and the most consistent and skilled team will have the ability to win the Championship.”
The 2019 IBSA Blind Football African Championships will feature the best teams from the region vying for the trophy between 22nd November and 1st December.
Caption: image from the 2015 African Championships in Douala, Cameroon.
By Sarah Nasir for IBSA.