The Inas 2014 World Football Championships is scheduled to officially get underway tomorrow in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with the Saudi Arabia team entering as clear favorites on back to back wins at two previous editions of the competition. There are three groups for group play. One includes Argentina, Brazil and France. The second includes Germany, Poland and South Africa. The other includes Japan, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.
The Saudi Arabia team departed last weekend following a farewell celebration and game in front of notable local dignitaries at the national Olympic center. The French team also enters the competition as favorites to make it to the finals.
Germany, Poland and S0uth Africa make up one group in the competition. The Germans had a team training camp in Ingolstadt before leaving for Brazil. The German squad is looking to improve on their sixth place finish at the last world championship in South Africa. National team coach Jörg Dittwar is quoted by Deutscher Behindertensportverband as saying, “We would like to confirm our sixth place of 2010 or beat possible. This is a realistic project. We have a young, ambitious team that wants to prove himself internationally. But we also know how the other teams have stepped up and which players they compete. ” He went on to say, “The atmosphere in the team is great. After the World Cup title The DFB-team all boys are keen to do it as well as Philipp Lahm and Mario Götze.”
The Swedes are also competing in a group that includes Japan and Saudi Arabia. Swedish Ligue 1 football player Zlatan Ibrahimovic paid for the team’s travel to the competition. Funding had been an issue and national team coach Stefan Jonsson had asked the player for a signed jersey to auction off to try to raise funds, only for the player to make the offer to cover the costs. Ibrahimovic cited his own team’s lack of qualifying as one of the reasons to pay for it, and he wanted to give others, regardless of their gender or disability, the chance to play at the highest level. Sweden opens group play on Friday against Japan, and then meets Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
The South African side includes Phelelani Mbambo, a student at the H S Ebrahim School for the Intellectually Impaired. He initially made the national team in 2012 but has not had the opportunity to make many appearances for the squad because of a lack of opportunities to compete internationally. He is one of only three players from KwaZulu-Natal on the eighteen member strong South African team.