Tokyo Olympics football draw sets up tantalizing group stage clashes
The 28 teams that secured qualification in football for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics discovered their group stage opponents on Wednesday after the official draw was conducted at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
A total of 16 men's teams and 12 women's teams were drawn into seven groups. The men’s competition saw footballing heavyweights Spain and Argentina find themselves in Group C, while Brazil and Germany will face each other in group D.
The opening game of the men's competition will see Group A in action as Mexico take on France on 22 July at the Tokyo Stadium and hosts Japan will face South Africa later that day.
Group G in the women’s competition also has plenty of mouth-watering clashes to look forward to. It features Trans-Tasmanic rivals Australia and New Zealand as well as the USWNT that will take on Sweden with the intent of avenging their loss to the Scandinavian country on penalties from the 2016 Games.
Hosts Japan will kickstart the women’s competition against Canada in a match from Group E, which also features Great Britain and Chile. Both men and women will play the group stages followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals, the bronze medal match and the final.
While the men’s teams are usually restricted to picking players below the age of 23 with only three overage players permitted, the age bracket was raised for the Tokyo Games after the one-year postponement of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Football first featured in the Olympics in 1900 and has been a part of the Games since in all but one edition in 1932. Hungary and Great Britain are the most successful footballing countries in the competition having won three golds each, while Brazil is the defending Olympics champions for the first time in their history after Neymar inspired them to gold in 2016.
The history of the women’s competition at the Games is slightly different and it’s the USWNT (United States Women's National Team) that have been the dominant force having won four of the six gold medals available since 1996 when the first women’s tournament was held.
Tokyo Olympics football draw results
Men's Olympic Football Tournament
Group A: Japan, South Africa, Mexico, France
Group B: New Zealand, Korea Republic, Honduras, Romania
Group C: Egypt, Spain, Argentina, Australia
Group D: Brazil, Germany, Côte d'Ivoire, Saudi Arabia
Women's Olympic Football Tournament
Group E: Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Chile
Group F: China, Brazil, Zambia, Netherlands
Group G: Sweden, USA, Australia, New Zealand
Featured Image: Charly Triballeau