SA U-23 closer to knowing Olympic foes

The SA Under-23s grabbed the final Olympic ticket on offer at the CAF U-23 Afcon in Egypt following a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Ghana in their third-place play-off on Friday. Picture: Caf Online
The SA Under-23s grabbed the final Olympic ticket on offer at the CAF U-23 Afcon in Egypt following a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Ghana in their third-place play-off on Friday. Picture: Caf Online

The lineup for this year’s Olympic football tournament is taking shape, and the South African Under-23s are just two months away from knowing their fate at the multi-coded showpiece in Tokyo, Japan.

This after South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Australia became the latest nations to secure tickets following the conclusion of the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Championships in Thailand at the weekend.

The three join South Africa among the 12 nations, including hosts Japan, that have already qualified for the July 22 to August 8 tournament.

The junior Bafana will at least have an idea of their likely opponents from Asia when the organising committee conducts the draw on April 20.

The four remaining slots for the Tokyo Games will be filled by the two nations each from the Conmebol (South America) championship in a fortnight and the Concacaf (the Caribbean) tournament in April.

At the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro four years ago, South Africa were in the same group as hosts Brazil, Denmark and Iraq.

However, then coach Owen Da Gama and his side were eliminated in the first round without a win after two losses and a goalless draw against a Brazil team with megastar Neymar.

South Africa will be competing in their third Olympics since their debut in the 2000 edition and they will represent Africa alongside Egypt and Ivory Coast.

European youth football powerhouses Spain, Germany and France are some of the high profile nations that have also qualified for the Tokyo Games.

In Japan, the 16 teams will be drawn into four groups of four teams.

Japan are automatically seeded into Pot 1 and assigned to position one in group A.

The rest of the teams will be seeded into their respective pots based on their results in the last five Olympics, with bonus points awarded to confederation champions.

No more than one team from each confederation will be drawn in the same group.

Brazil are the defending champions.

Meanwhile, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, the national umbrella body responsible for the delivery the teams to the Games, will announce the first batch of names for Team SA towards the end of April.


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