Argentina aim to put 2010 pain behind them in Japan

Argentina’s football 5-a-side captain Silvio Velo is confident as they aim to become champions for a third time at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan. 13 Nov 2014
Silvio Velo

Silvio Velo at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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By Matt Morelli

“We are very confident of achieving our objective of becoming world champions. We have worked hard and we're in good condition.”

Argentina are looking to bounce back from the disappointment of 2010 with victory at the IBSA 2014 Blind Football World Championships in Tokyo, Japan, between 16-24 November.

Since the first World Championships in 1998, there have only been two winners of the title – Brazil in 1998, 2000 and 2010, and Argentina in 2002 and 2006.

At the 2010 World Championships in Hereford, Great Britain, the reigning champions crashed out in the group stages, after defeats to France and China and were forced to battle it out for seventh place with Japan.

But despite this, Argentina’s Silvio Velo remains upbeat about their chances of success in the pursuit of a third world title.

“We are very confident of achieving our objective of becoming world champions. We have worked hard and we're in good condition,” said the 43-year-old.

Japan are set to become the first Asian host of the World Championships, with 12 teams competing for the title – the biggest competition to date.

Drawn into Group C, Argentina will need to finish either top or second in their group if they wish to reach the quarter-final stage. They are set to face current European champions Spain, relative newcomers Germany and South Korea, who came sixth at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

“Spain are a very experienced team and therefore a tough opponent,” said Velo.

“Korea and Germany are new teams, but they will want to prove themselves and neither will make it easy for us. All teams are difficult to play against because of the very high standard of coaching and often, the difference between teams is minimal. We do not underestimate anyone.”

Brazil are the favourites going in to the competition, having won every Paralympic title since the sport was introduced at Athens 2004 along with their three world titles, and Velo has earmarked two of their players that will need to be stopped if they are to succeed in Japan.

“There are many great players. I really like Ricardinho and Jeferson, both of whom make the difference with their talent and ability. There are also players in China who have a great deal of technical skill.”

Velo has long been an ambassador of football 5-a-side, having become the captain of his national team in 1991 before guiding them to two world titles and Paralympic bronze and silver medals.

Despite his many achievements, there is one clear standout moment for the Argentinian.

“There have been many satisfying moments in my career, but the highlight was winning the World Championship in 2006,” he said.

“For me it was very special to have scored the goal that gave Argentina the title. It was exciting to share all our joy with the Argentine public, and our friends and family.”

For more information, visit the IBSA Blind Football World Championships website. All games from the competition will also be streamed live.