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IBSA Blind Football World Grand Prix: A preview for Paris 2024

Date: May 25, 2024

Category: Football

Seven of the eight qualified teams for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will line-up for the 2024 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Grand Prix in Schiltigheim, France, from Sunday (26 May).

The first games will get underway with players knowing who they will face in the group stages at this summer’s Paralympics; the draw took place during the opening ceremony of the World Grand Prix on Saturday evening.

Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Japan and Turkiye will compete in Schiltigheim as the teams who have secured tickets to Paris 2024.

Brazil are the defending champions as well the Paralympic title-holders, unbeaten since Athens 2004.

Six of the winning squad members remain from their latest gold at Tokyo 2020. They include Raimundo ‘Nonato’ Mendes, the top goal scorer from Brazil’s 2023 World Grand Prix winning campaign. Several other icons, such as Cassio Reis and Luan Goncalves, also return.

However Brazil may well be looking over their shoulders as Paris 2024 edges closer. At both the 2022 at the Americas Championships and 2023 at the World Championships, the side lost out to Argentina.

Maxi Espinillo will be hoping ‘Los Murcielagos’ can continue that form into the Paralympic year and ultimately become the first side to topple Brazil on the biggest stage of them all.

Maxi has been at the forefront of his country’s most important victories over the years alongside teammates like Froilan Padilla and German Muleck.

The World Grand Prix could reveal if we are all about to witness a changing of the guard at the top of blind football. Argentina play Japan in the opening game of the World Grand Prix at 14:00 CET on Sunday.

Hosts France may have secured a place at their home Paralympics by default, but the side are not just making up numbers. They secured the European title in 2022, beating Turkiye on penalties and going the whole tournament unbeaten.

Captain Babacar Niang scored the winner for France in the final and remains at the head of the team. They will get their World Grand Prix campaign underway against Colombia at 20:00 CET on Sunday.

Turkiye secured their Paralympic spot with that Euros finish, taking the place as France had already qualified as hosts.

China are the Asian champions whilst Thailand and Japan are two more of the best teams in Asia right now.

Everyone will have to get past Ponchai Kasikonudompaisan, who was awarded Best Goalkeeper at the last regional Championships for Thailand. And Japan’s Kuroda Tomanari scored an impressive nine goals to be named the competition’s top goalscorer.

Colombia round-off a top-quality group going for the World Grand Prix title.

They will make their Paralympic debut from 1 September following a second-place finish at the 2023 Parapan American Games. They beat a path to the final by knocking-out Argentina in the semis.

The 2024 IBSA Blind Football World Grand Prix runs from 26 May with the final on 1 June. All games can be watched live at IBSA Blind Football’s website, alongside results and updates published on the sport’s socials. The full game schedule is available here:

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