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2020 Summer Olympic Games
23 July – 8 August 2021
Africa’s representatives in the Men’s football tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games will look to follow in the footsteps of previous Gold Medal winners Nigeria (Atlanta 1996) and Cameroon (2000).
All three African teams find themselves in tough pools, starting with South Africa in Group A alongside hosts Japan, Mexico and France. Coach David Notoane’s team have also been hit by the withdrawal of five players, leaving them scrambling to make a plan before jetting out to Japan.
“We’re busy adjusting our plans and strategies. It’s difficult now to get replacements because teams have already started pre-season…we’re looking around. Perhaps we might look at the players who’re at the Cosafa because you don’t want to take a player who is not ready for competition,’’
Egypt, meanwhile, will have to battle a tough Group C against Spain, Argentina and Australia shorn of their most potent attacking threat: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool, who was not granted permission to join by his Premier League.
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Nonetheless, the Pharaohs still have a potent squad featuring experienced players such as Ahmed Hegazy and Mohamed El Shenawy, as well as plenty of exciting, up-and-coming talent.
Africa’s best hope at Tokyo 2020 may well lie with Ivory Coast, though they too have an incredibly tough Group D to get through, with Germany, Brazil and Saudi Arabia as their opponents.
Nonetheless, coach Soualiho Haidara has a squad which is mostly drawn from Europe and features three ‘heavy hitters’ for their overage players: veteran striker Max Gradel, Manchester United defender Eric Bailly and, most crucially, Milan midfield kingpin Franck Kessie.
"Franck Kessie is a generational leader. He is a player who has a special connection with the group on which he regularly informs himself. We have been in constant contact over the phone. He has a good frame of mind and is able to bring us a lot in the community,” said Haidara.
The Men’s football tournament will run from July 22 to August 7, with matches played at six venues in Kashima, Rifu, Saitama, Sapporo, Tokyo and Yokohama.
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