#Tokyo2020: Five things we learned about blind football
Date: September 14, 2021
A surprising bronze medal and some impressive debuts showed the ever-deepening field in blind football at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Here are the main things we learned…
Brazil cannot be defeated
Brazil succeeded in their quest for blind football glory once again, winning their fifth consecutive title.
Nonato’s winning goal in the gold medal match against rivals Argentina extended their unbeaten record at the Paralympic Games to 27 matches. Brazil topped Group A after defeating China 3-0, Japan 4-0 and France 4-0. An own goal in the semi-final against Morocco helped Brazil qualify to defend their gold medal.
An outstanding Paralympic debut for 22-year-old Jardiel Vieira Soares included a brace against France, showing signs that the current Paralympic, World, American and Parapan American champions global dominance could extend to the 2023 IBSA Blind Football World Championships in Birmingham, Great Britain.
Morocco and Snisla have more history to make
Five years ago at Rio 2016, Morocco finished last in their Paralympic Games blind football debut. But the African champions returned with renewed vigour at Tokyo 2020 and made an indelible mark on the history books.
First, Morocco progressed to their first Paralympic semi-final thanks to Zouhair Snisla’s four goals in a 2-1 defeat to Argentina, a 2-0 triumph over Thailand and a 1-1 draw against Spain.
Then a slender defeat to defending champions Brazil granted the team a chance to achieve their first Paralympic podium finish in the bronze medal match against China. Zouhair Snisla fired four goals past the Asian champions to do just that and finish top goal scorer.
Although they defied all expectations, Morocco deserved their podium and could dominate blind football in years to come.
Asian debutants impress
Japan and Thailand both made their Paralympic blind football debut at Tokyo 2020.
Japan recorded their first win with a 4-0 win over France and sealed fifth place over Spain following a first touch finish by Tomonari Kuroda. Thailand confirmed seventh place with a 3-2 win over France with two goals from Kittikorn and one from Panyawaut Kupan.
Displaying technical skill, physical strength and goalscoring capability, both nations showed a promising future on the world stage.
China just pipped again, Argentina gain ground
Six-time Asian champions have struggled to transfer their regional dominance to the pinnacle of blind football since their bronze medal on home soil at Beijing 2008.
Tokyo 2020 increased China’s bronze medal drought after losing a Paralympic third place play off for the second consecutive time. They lost to Argentina on penalties at Rio 2016 and a disappointing defeat to Morocco at Tokyo 2020 meant they had to settle for fourth place once again. If they can bolster their teams’ post group match performances, Paris 2024 might see their return to medal memories.
Argentina meanwhile reached their best ever finish since Athens 2004, when blind football made its Paralympic debut. A tense final against Brazil showed the team’s ability to hold the undisputed champions to a tough match. Despite having to settle for silver after going 1-0 down, South America’s other great football force have a lot to be positive about.
Prepare for Paris 2024
While Tokyo 2020 saw Brazil and Argentina reach the gold medal match for the second time since Athens 2004, it could have been a very different final.
Morocco’s rapid improvement from Rio 2016 saw them within inches of qualifying for the gold medal match only after losing to Brazil through an own goal in the 28th minute. China, Japan and Thailand also produced some excellent performances through the competition.
Argentina and Brazil will be watching their backs in the next three years as more teams rub shoulders with them to contend for gold at Paris 2024. The World Championships in Birmingham will be a fierce competition with numerous teams possessing the quality to derail Brazil for the world title.
By Keon Richardson | For IBSA