Africa Eyes Favourable Men’s Olympic Football Draw

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Three African countries will discover their opponents for the highly anticipated Men’s Olympic Football Tournament, when the draw takes place in Paris on Wednesday, March 20th.

African interest will centre on Egypt, Mali and Morocco after their impressive qualifying campaigns at last year’s U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The trio will be keeping a close eye on Wednesday’s draw in the French capital, where they could potentially land dream groups or tournament-defining challenges.

But one more African nation could yet make the draw, with Guinea facing a playoff against one of the fourth-placed Asian teams for the final spot. This means Africa will have four representatives at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris if Guinea wins the intercontinental playoff scheduled to be held in May.

Egypt, quarter-finalists in 1928 and 1964, have reached a record 12 Olympic tournaments and will hope to improve on that best-ever finish in Paris. For the Pharaohs, this tournament represents a record 13th appearance at the Olympic football event dating back to their debut in 1920.

Morocco are no strangers to the big stage either, with this being their eighth Olympic odyssey. The Atlas Lions were surprise winners of last year’s U-23 Africa Cup of Nations to seal qualification and will believe they can go further than their previous best of the second round in 1972.

Mali completes Africa’s trio in Paris after grabbing the last automatic qualification spot via a third-place finish in the continental U-23 championship. The Eagles are relatively inexperienced at this level, with their 2004 quarter-final showing in Athens remaining their only previous Olympic foray.

The full line-up of participants won’t be confirmed until early May, when Asian qualifying concludes.

Hosts France are already guaranteed a place in the 16-team event, which kicks off proceedings at their home Olympics on July 24th, two days before the opening ceremony.

They will be joined by a star-studded cast from around the globe, including three former Olympic champions in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

 

CAF/Chidi Nwoke.

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