China is still in a state of bliss after winning the 2019 IBSA Blind Football Asian Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, in September.
Not only did the team qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics alongside silver medalists Iran, but they also retained the title for the fifth time.
However, whilst China’s win may not have come as a surprise to some, the team had a tough build-up.
Coach Wang Guishun explained:
“The team faced great difficulties, reason being was the short interval between the National Games and the Asian Championships. The players suffered psychological and physical fatigue and injuries. To cure those in a short notice was a dilemma. From psychological tests, counselling and rehabilitation to recovery training, everything was conducted by the coach group. Due to short time and the need of heavy task, the coaching team, based on the original playing method, slightly adjusted individual skills and tactics, focused on the practice of free kick, and made every effort to complete the task of getting the Paralympic Games qualification.”
The Asian Championships saw China compete with seven other teams including Iran, Japan, Thailand, India, Malaysia, South Korea and Oman. The Chinese ended up facing Iran in a repeat of the 2017 final, beating them 1-0.
Caption: China lines up for a match at the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships in Madrid, Spain.
China are now preparing for Tokyo 2020. This will be the fourth time the team will play at the Paralympic Games.
With a history of finishing in second, fifth and fourth places, this time China has their eyes fixed on the podium.
“It is the dream of every blind football practitioner to participate in the Paralympic Games. It is the greatest hope of the Chinese team to show the self-improvement and indomitable struggle on the stage of the Paralympic Games and encourage every disabled person in their future life,” said Guishun.
Acknowledging the contrasting technical and tactical styles between countries, China maintains respect for their opponents.
“The teams that can participate in the competitive Paralympic Games are representing the highest level of each continent with different techniques and tactics. There are no weak teams and each team has the possibility of winning the title. Only the team with the most preparation and the least mistakes can stand on the final podium. Therefore, the Chinese team will actively prepare for each match and strive for the best results.”
Over the years, China have achieved outstanding results in a series of national, regional and international tournaments.
As a result, they have gathered a large number of fans, which Guishin believes gives his team extra motivation:
”Thanks to the fans for their support and encouragement, which is the source of strength for the Chinese team. The 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games is coming. All teams will fight for our country. We will work together to provide wonderful Paralympic Games for football 5-a-side fans all over the world!”
China currently sits third in the IBSA Blind Football World Ranking
By Sarah Nasir for IBSA.