South Korea are preparing for their sixth International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Championships set to take place in Madrid, Spain, from 7-17 June, where they seek to reach the top five for the first time.
They were drawn in Group C together with China, Russia* and Mexico.
Here are five things you should know about South Korea before competition gets underway:
• The South Korea blind football national team was founded in 2004. In that same year, they competed at the Paralympic Games in Athens, which was their first international competition and the debut of blind football at the Paralympics.
• Though they finished last in Athens, South Korea went on to establish themselves as a powerhouse nation at the Asian Championships, winning silver in 2005 and 2007, and bronze in 2009 and 2013.
• South Korea have a vast amount of experience at the World Championships, having competed in the last five editions. In 2014, South Korea held European giants Germany and Spain to goalless draws and battled to a 2-1 defeat against Argentina. South Korea also narrowly lost to France 2-1 in the play-offs to finish 10th.
• In 2017, South Korea fell short of what would have been their third Asian bronze medal, as they lost to Thailand 2-0. However, their fourth-place finish meant that they qualified for Madrid 2018.
• Shin Yunchul will be the player to watch, as he is the talisman for the team with his tremendous goal-scoring record.
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 in earnest on 8 June. The quarter finals and play-offs begin on 13 June with the final taking place on 17 June.
*Editor’s note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.