The world’s best blind football teams are fine-tuning their preparations and are getting ready for the biggest competition on the calendar: the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Championships, set to take place in Madrid, Spain, from 7-17 June.
After winning the 2017 IBSA Blind Football European Championships, Russia* appear as one of the leading contenders for the title.
Here are four facts about the team that will make their World Championships debut in Madrid.
• Blind football first appeared in Russia in 2004 as part of the Russian Federation President’s Cup.
• Russia won their first European Championships in Berlin last year after beating London 2012 silver medallists France in the semi-finals and seven-time European champions Spain in the gold medal-match.
• They ended fourth at the inaugural World Grand Prix in Tokyo, Japan, last month.
• At their World Championships debut, Tikhonov will be a key player, with his nimble dribbling and sharp shooting.
Madrid 2018 is also an important step on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
After the Opening Ceremony on 7 June, the group stages get underway on 8 June. The quarter finals and play-offs begin on 13 June with the final taking place on 17 June.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.
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