“The target is simple. We want to become Paralympic champions.”
Turkey’s Emrah Ocal has spoken of the high expectations his football 5-a-side team have for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, despite needing to overcome favourites Brazil and Argentina.
The team secured a spot at this year’s Paralympic Games after beating Russia 1-0 at the IBSA Blind Football European Championships 2015. Turkey burst onto the scene to prove themselves as contenders in a highly competitive field.
“Winning the European Championships was possible thanks to our tactical intelligence and the strong belief that we could have success,” said Ocal, the European Championships leading scorer with seven goals.
Turkey will now have the opportunity at Rio 2016 to show the world how fast it has improved since London 2012, where it was eliminated in the group stage after three consecutive defeats against China, Brazil and France.
‘We are delighted to go to the Paralympics,” Ocal said, whilst setting an ambitious goal. “The target is simple. We want to become Paralympic champions.”
However, he admits achieving that goal will not be easy. “Brazil, Argentina and China will be competing in Rio, so we will have to reach our full potential to be able to defeat those teams,” he said.
Brazil has so far monopolised the Paralympic football 5-a-side event, claiming gold at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Ocal is aware of that fact but remains confident in their capacity to win the gold. “I think our preparation for Rio 2016 will make us competitive enough to face any of the best teams,” he said.
“Our team is like a big family and that is our main strength. Besides, we are all willing to learn new things and improve constantly.”
“On the other hand, we lack international experience. I believe we will be ready for Rio though.”
Either if Turkey makes it to the podium or not, Ocal is already thinking beyond Rio.
“After winning the European Championships, the Turkish media interest has increased. We hope this Paralympic Games will showcase what people with impairment can do and encourage blind people from around the world to take up football 5.”
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.