“If we want to be crowned as champions in Rio, we have to implement our strategy perfectly.”
Although Brazil, who are targeting a fourth successive Paralympic crown in football 5-side – will start as strong favourites at Rio 2016, they will not have it all their own way on home territory.
Two-time world champions Argentina will be hopeful of improving on the silver and bronze medals they won at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, whilst Turkey will try build on the European title they won in 2015.
Here are four players who could light up the Rio 2016 football 5-a-side competition.
Argentina’s captain, known to many as the “Paralympic Maradona”, will play in his fourth and final Paralympic Games before retirement. The 44-year-old is hoping to finally win the Paralympic gold medal, the only medal that has eluded his so far glittering career.
Velo is a two-time world champion who also won Paralympic silver in 2004 and bronze in 2008 who is relishing the opportunity to finish his career against the Paralympic champions.
“Argentina-Brazil is the biggest derby in the world, the best match a footballer can ever play. Our national team is mentally strong and will fight hard to achieve the only medal that has not yet won: the gold one.”
Jeferson da Conceicao Goncalves
Jefinho as he is known was first called up to Brazil national team in 2006 to play at the Rio 2007 Parapan American Games. He has not stopped winning titles and scoring decisive goals since then. The ‘Paralympic Pele’ has helped his team claim two Paralympic, two world and two Parapan Am golds.
“Brazil is preparing for the best Paralympic Games ever,” he said. “The home crowd will be very important for us while we stay on course to win another gold. We expect many people to give us their support.”
Turkey’s striker helped his team win the 2015 IBSA European Championships by scoring seven goals. He now aims for further success at Rio 2016.
“We are delighted to go to Rio. It was absolutely fantastic to qualify for our second Paralympic Games.
“Brazil, Argentina and China will be competing, so we will have to reach our full potential to be able to defeat those teams.
“I think our preparation for Rio 2016 will make us competitive enough to face any of them.”
Ricardo Steinmetz Alves
The Brazilian two-time football 5 world player of the year suffered a leg injury early in April and will be on the sidelines for the next few months. After winning gold in 2008 and 2012, the 27-year-old will be hoping to be back to full fitness as Brazil aim to maintain their Paralympic dominance in this sport.
“If we want to be crowned as champions in Rio, we have to implement our strategy perfectly,” he said.
“We have not lost an international competition for some time, thus we are the favourites for the gold. However we will face strong teams, such as Argentina.”
Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.
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.