The football 5-a-side draw for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games was held in the Japanese capital on Monday (14 June) with eight of the world’s best teams drawn into two groups.
Defending champions Brazil were pulled out of the hat by Japan Inclusive Football Federation President Kitawaza Tsuyoshi and Tokyo 2020 Sports Director Mikako Kotani and go into group A.
They will face hosts Japan, France and China from 29 August for a spot in the semi-finals. Brazil will be looking for their fifth consecutive Paralympic title.
Meanwhile, the mood in the Japan camp is good after a successful campaign at the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Grand Prix at the start of June. They put in good performances against five of the other qualified teams for Tokyo 2020, making into the final against Argentina.
France are the silver medallists from London 2012 and have engineered a successful football 5-a-side renaissance in recent years. Bouncing back from a 15th place finish at the 2018 World Championships, France qualified for Tokyo 2020 by claiming silver at the 2019 Euros.
China are the Asian champions having defeated Rio 2016 silver medallists Iran to the title in 2019.
Morocco, Argentina, Spain and Thailand were drawn in group B.
Argentina are fierce rivals to Brazil and their draw into a separate group could lead to a thrilling semi-final clash. The team are looking to improve on their bronze medal from Rio 2016.
European champions Spain, the country that helped pioneer football 5-a-side 100 years ago, are targeting a return to the podium having missed out four years ago.
Like Japan, Thailand are also riding the wave of a great performance at the World Grand Prix. They beat Spain and France to secure a place in the third-place playoff, eventually losing out to Spain 1-0.
Morocco line-up as the African champions having become the first side from the region to compete at a Paralympics at Rio 2016. They have dominated blind football in Africa, securing all four titles so far.
Football 5-a-side kicks-off at Tokyo 2020 on 29 August with three days of group play followed by a day off on 1 September. The semi-finals get underway on 2 September with the final set for 4 September.