- Date: 06-03-2020
- Related to: Football
The eight teams who will play for the biggest and most coveted prize in blind football – the Paralympic title – have been confirmed by the International Blind Sports Federation.
Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Japan, Morocco, Spain and Thailand will all go for gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games from 30 August – 5 September.
Thailand replace Iran following the return of their slot by the National Paralympic Committee.
As the hosts, Japan automatically qualify and have been working hard on building their team as well as awareness of the sport in Tokyo and beyond. They will aim to put on a good show at the Aomi Urban Sports Park for their new and old fans alike.
Brazil are the defending champions having reigned supreme throughout the history of tournament. The team are unbeaten since blind football made its Paralympic debut at Athens 2004. They are also the world champions having collected their third successive title in Madrid, Spain, in 2018.
Brazil could look to players such as Ricardinho Alves, the top scorer from Madrid 2018, as well as the ‘Paralympic Pele’ Jefferson Goncalves to retain the trophy.
Argentina line-up as the bronze medallists from Rio 2016 having secured their place at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games in Peru. Their second place finish to Brazil was enough to secure their ticket to Tokyo 2020.
Like their rivals, Argentina also have a hugely experienced and talented pool of players. These include Maxi Espinillo, the man who scored the winning penalty in a dramatic shoot-out against China four years ago.
Spain qualified after winning their eighth European title in 2019 against France, who also punched their ticket. The French will be hoping to impress ahead of their home Paralympics in 2024, and are the silver medallists from London 2012.
Morocco are the African champions and return to the Paralympic stage following their debut 2016. Asian champions China remain an ever-present threat having challenged for medals in Rio.
Thailand received the reallocated slot from Iran following their fourth place finish at the 2019 Asian Championships. They were the next highest team from the region not already qualified.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games opens on 25 August. The football-5-a-side competition gets underway on 30 August with three days of group play. The semi-finals then take place on 3 September with the medal matches on 5 September.