China hoping to convert regional blind football dominance
Date: August 5, 2021
The Chinese blind football team are a formidable force on the international stage and are touted to win their second Paralympic football 5-a-side medal at Tokyo 2020.
China have won six consecutive Asian Championship titles between 2007 and 2019, two World Championship bronze medals in 2010 and 2018, two Asian Para Games podiums and one Paralympic silver medal from their home Games at Beijing 2008.
As finalists of the Asian Championships in Pattaya 2019, China qualified for Tokyo 2020 and defeated Iran to win the title, increasing their undefeated streak in the Championships to nine matches. The national team’s Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008 was their best so far, topping the group and narrowly losing to Brazil 2-1 in the gold medal match. At Rio 2016, they missed out on bronze after losing to Argentina 1-0 on penalties. Over their three Paralympic appearances, China have exercised their robust defensive system and goal scoring prowess against the top blind football nations; they have netted 18 goals and only conceded eight.
Two years later, China continued their run of dominant performances at the World Championships in Madrid 2018 where they defeated Russia 2-1 to scoop their second bronze medal. Zhang Jia Bin also finished the tournament as fifth top goal scorer with six goals. Although China have not played any friendlies or in any major tournaments since the 2019 Asian Championships, the national team have been running intensive training camps in preparation for their fourth Paralympic Games at Tokyo 2020.
China is drawn in Group A with European silver medallists France, reigning Paralympic champions Brazil and Tokyo 2020 hosts Japan. They will be looking to topple Brazil for the gold medal having only lost to the four-time Paralympic champions by one goal in the Beijing 2008 final and Madrid 2018 semi-final. China will be relying on their captain Wei Jiansen’s attacking and defensive versatility to attain their second Paralympic medal.
By Keon Richardson | For IBSA Blind Football