Sport Week: Football 7-a-side storylines29.05.2016
Here are five potential storylines to follow ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
1. Russia-Ukraine rivalry
The two nations have met twice in the past two Paralympic finals, and recently in the 2015 World Championships. So far, Russia holds the momentum, having won gold in the London 2012 Paralympic Games and 2015 World Championships in Burton-upon-Trent, Great Britain.
2. Gold-medal surprises?
Six other teams will try to break the Russian-Ukrainian dominance, and it appears No. 3 ranked Brazil and No. 4 Netherlands hold the best chances.
The two faced each other for the bronze medal in the 2015 Worlds, with Brazil taking the victory.
3. Home advantage
Host nation Brazil could draw energy from their home crowd during the Paralympics, and this might be just what they need to reach the finals.
Brazil have proven they are contenders. They did not concede a single point to their opponents during the 2015 Worlds – until they faced Ukraine, whom they lost to 2-1 in the finals. The two also met in the 2016 Pre-Paralympic Tournament, the last major competition before Rio 2016, in which Brazil lost 2-0.
Brazil however have numerous scoring weapons, such as Jan Francisco Brito da Costa and Wanderson Silva de Oliveira, who can potentially break through the stout defenses of Ukraine and Russia.
4. Days of the Dutch
The Dutch had a winning tradition in football 7-a-side. Following the sport’s World Championships in 1982, the Netherlands won the next three titles (1986, 1990 and1994). They also won three consecutive Paralympic golds in Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996.
The Netherlands have straddled the border in standing among the top-three teams. Could Rio 2016 be the Games where they break their 20-year drought of a Paralympic podium?
5. Soaking in the Paralympics
With football 7-a-side not included on the Paralympic programme for Tokyo 2020, Rio 2016 would be an extra special experience for the eight teams participating: Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, the Netherlands, the USA, Great Britain and Argentina. The Deodoro Stadium in September is sure to field some exceptional football performances.
Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.