Brazil re-asserted their dominance in football 5-a-side after sealing their third Parapan American title in August’s competition in Toronto, Canada. But the reigning world and Paralympic champions were close to being stunned by rival Argentina, whom they beat in a tight 2-1 contest. That Parapan Am final comes in at No. 28 in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2015.
“History shows that Brazil-Argentina matches are played with a lot of tension due to the huge rivalry between the two teams that makes it the biggest derby in world football,” said Brazil’s Ricardinho, known as the best football-5-a-side player in the world.
“In Toronto, we performed a tight and intense game, just like last year’s [International Blind Sports Federation] IBSA Blind Football World Championships final, when we defeated Argentina 1-0.”
Jefinho, nicknamed the “Paralympic Pele,” gave Brazil the lead at the beginning of the match with a powerful right-footed shot. Even though Argentina had enough chances to score a goal during the first and second half, Ricardinho increased his team’s advantage to 2-0 with a solo goal. He picked the ball past the halfway line, stunned Argentina’s defence with a fantastic dribble and lashed a shot past goalkeeper German Mulek.
Two minutes before the ending, Maximiliano Espinillo scored a free-kick with a fierce shot that crashed into the top right corner of Brazil’s net and gave Argentina hope. With 30 seconds to go, Espinillo had another free-kick. However, his heart-stopping shot hit De Lacerda Goncalves’ left post, to the delight of the Brazilian crowd that celebrated this dramatic victory over Argentina.
“Brazil secured the triumph because we implemented what we had trained during the whole year. We did what our coach, Fabio Vasconcelos, had told us to do and then celebrated while lifting the Parapan Am crown,” said Ricardinho.
Argentina’s coach Martin Demonte said the match was one of the best he has ever been part of.
“It is impossible to predict the final result of any match against Brazil, as they are the two most competitive teams in the world,” Demonte said.
“Brazil began the match in a better way and scored an early goal,” he said. “We are not used to that, as matches against them are always decided in the last minute or in the penalty kicks. We woke up too late, but could have tied the game. It was a pity.”
Argentina hopes to get a chance for revenge next year, at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the same city where Argentina was crowned as world champion in 2006.
“It would be a dream match, and as a visitor in Rio, where we won our first World Championships,” Demonte said. “I crave that.”
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.