With the countdown for the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Championships in Madrid, Spain, entering the final stretch, here are five things you should know about Argentina.
The world No.2 was drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ alongside respective London 2012 and Rio 2016 silver medallists France and Iran, and emerging power Colombia.
• In 1991, Argentina's blind football national team was created by the Federación Argentina De Ciegos (Argentinian Federation for the Blind). Today, Argentina are one of the most powerful blind football nations in the world.
• Their first official international competition was at the 1997 Copa America in Asunción, Paraguay, where they attained silver.
• ‘Los Murciélagos’ (the Bats) have achieved a podium finish in almost every edition of the World Championships, claiming silver in 1998, 2000 and 2014 and gold in 2002 and 2006.
• Argentina added a third Copa America gold to their trophy cabinet in 2017. They defeated Brazil in a penalty shootout 2-1 to end their South American rival’s 57-match unbeaten run. Argentina also scored seventeen goals throughout the tournament.
• Velo is one of Argentina’s longest-serving players. Known as the ‘Blind Maradona’, his understanding of the game and attacking attributes could unravel the defence of other countries at the World Championships.
The 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships will feature 16 of the world’s best teams. As well as the title on offer the competition is also an important step on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
After the Opening Ceremony and match 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.