Rio 2016 Preview: Football-5-a-side

Photo: International Paralympic Committee

Sport: Football-5-a-side

Events: One (Men only)

Classification: Football-5-a-side is for visually impaired athletes, with a sighted goalkeeper. The four outfield players wear blindfolds. A coach stands behind the goal and taps the edges of the goal to assist players in finding the goal. The ball also contains a device which makes a noise so players can find the ball.

Venue: Olympic Tennis Center

Athlete Quota: 96 (Eight teams)

International Federation: International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA)

Defending Champions: Brazil (2004, 2008, 2012)

Preview

One word. Brazil. Sure, you’re not allowed to use it as a ‘word’ in Scrabble, but that’s the main thing fans will be hearing about football-5-a-side as Brazil enters the tournament as the three time defending Paralympic Champions, making them the only team to have won a Paralympic gold medal, and now coming in as hosts they are overwhelming favourites for the event.

In fact only twice has Brazil dropped a major tournament in blind football, the 2004 and 2006 world championships, which both went to Argentina. The local rivals of Brazil will no doubt be very eager to defeat their biggest rivals in their home country.

Argentina were beat in the bronze medal match in London by Spain, who return again after a strong performance in the European Championships. The Spanish should advance in Rio, but they will face stern competition to make it back on to the podium.

The defending silver medallists, France, failed to qualify for Rio after being shocked in the European Championship. That brings in Turkey, having their best form of all time, as European Champions and if their form holds up will be a strong chance at a medal.

Group A contains all four continental champions in Brazil, Iran, Morrocco and Turkey; Group B is led by Argentina and also contains China, Mexico and Spain.

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