China aims to upset at Rio 2016

The Beijing 2008 blind football silver medallists feel ‘prepared to beat anyone’ at September’s Paralympic Games, including powerhouse Brazil. 17 Jun 2016
Blindfolded football player celebrates

Lijing Zhang of China celebrates during the men's football 5-a-side match between Turkey and China on Day 2 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games

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“We believe in ourselves and are confident we can defeat them.”

China has positioned itself as one of the best football 5-a-side teams in the last years and is now determined to make a splash at Rio 2016.

The Beijing 2008 silver medallists aim to win the gold, for which they will have to overcome strong favourites and three-time Paralympic champions Brazil.

“It is known that Brazil is the best team in the world,” said China’s coach Hongmou Zou.

“We admire and try to be like them. However, we believe in ourselves and are confident we can defeat them.”

Before thinking of a potential face-off against Brazil, though, China has to qualify for the knockout stage.

The 2014 Asian Championships bronze medallists were drawn in group B together with 2014 IBSA World Championships runner-up Argentina, 2015 European Championships silver medallists Russia and Paralympic debutants Mexico.

“Argentina is our toughest opponent in the group stage, whilst Russia and Mexico will also be difficult rivals,” said Zou.

China’s team captain Yafeng Wang added that “there is no weak team at the Paralympics and we will need to fight hard in every match.

“Russia and Mexico will be making their Paralympic debut but are still going to be as tough opponents as Argentina.”

Eight years ago, Wang was part of the Chinese team that burst onto the football 5-a-side scene by winning silver at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

“It was the result of a team’s effort,” he said.

“We took every match very seriously and followed a strict training plan to win that medal. It was still a surprise, but we will never forget it.”

Zou highlighted how important that achievement was for the development of blind football in the country.

“It drew a lot more attention to the sport, more people got involved and the foundations were strengthened,” he said.

“The Government and the National Paralympic Committee have helped a lot as well, giving financial support to blind football clubs.”

China went on to claim a notable fifth place at London 2012 and, with three months to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Wang has set the bar high.

“Anything can happen during a football match and we will try to become Paralympic champions,” he said.


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.