May 28,2014(ISN) – The Netherlands are aiming to announce themselves as a leading national in seven-a-side cerebral palsy football, as they host heavyweights Brazil and Ukraine from the weekend.
The International CP Tournament in Groesbeek will give the hosts a chance to atone for their performance at the International Trophy in Barcelona last year, where they finished fifth in what was seen as a failure.
Action is due to kick-off on Saturday (May 31) for a week of play hosted by the Royal Netherlands Football Association.
Ukraine are the London 2012 Paralympic silver medallists, after losing 1-0 to Russia in the final, while Brazil lost 5-0 to Iran in the bronze medal match.
The Netherlands finished third in their four-team group at the Games, behind Russia and Iran, and ahead of Argentina.
In front of a home crowd, the Dutch hope they can show they have what it takes to break into the world’s top four.
“This is a very good test for us and the years that will come,” said 21-year-old Dutch midfielder Lars Conijn.
“If we get good results now we will give a signal to the other teams that we are getting better and stronger.
“The goal for this year at the European Championships is to get to the finals.
“We are now much stronger than last year in Barcelona so I want more.
“The tournament in the Netherlands is for that – a good showdown for us.”
He said the team has been training five times a week as part of efforts to improve their performances on the field.
Brazilian player Wanderson Oliveira said: “This tournament is important to improve our level.
“We are doing an amazing job for Rio 2016 and this event that is taking place in the Netherlands is a great opportunity to show that.
“Also, the tournament can be a good test for us and an experience for new athletes.
“I see 2013 as a year full of victories.
“Everything we planned went well.
“Our plan was to never be out of the podium, and this goal was achieved, so we kept this thought for 2014.”
The European Championships are are due to held in Maia, Portugal, from July 20 to August 3.