Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Football favourites Brazil can be beaten, says France coach Toussaint Akpweh

'Being a coach is like being a chef, you can put some different things in the pot, and at the end it’s either good or bad. Our situation is now good' 28 Aug 2021
Ricardinho controls the ball, while two Turkish players try to take it from him
Brazil are unbeaten in 22 games at Paralympics
ⒸGetty Images

Few teams have been as dominant in the history of the Paralympic Games as Brazil in 5-a-side football.

Since the introduction of the sport at Athens 2004, the South Americans have won gold at every Paralympics, amassing a remarkable 22-game unbeaten run along the way thanks to players such as Jeferson Goncalves, known as Jefinho and dubbed the Paralympic Pele, and inspirational captain Ricardo Alves, who also has a nickname - the blind Neymar.

“Brazil is the country of football,” said Toussaint Akpweh, coach of the France team. “Since they are very young, the first thing they receive in the world is a ball.

"All of the Brazilian players are very technical, and they have a good infrastructure to keep them at the top. But I don’t think Brazil will necessarily be the champions this time, the competition is now very open. We are not just here to take part.”

Along with traditional rivals Argentina, who finished runners-up to Brazil at the 2018 world championships, France are one of the main contenders at Tokyo 2020.

They failed to qualify for Rio 2016, and had a disastrous 2018 world championships, in which they finished second from last, but they are now back to their best.

Under the guidance of coach Akpweh, they finished second at the 2019 European Championships, and believe they can challenge for gold.

“Like everything in life, football is a journey,” Akpweh said. “I took over the selection again two years ago, and I have my own vision for the team.

"Being a coach is like being a chef in a kitchen, you can put some different things in the pot, and at the end it’s either good or bad. Our situation is now good, and we will see what will happen against the best teams in the world.”

The football competition runs from Sunday (August 29) to Saturday (September 4).