A shadow is cast as the sun sets behind the Olympic Rings on April 21 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/CARL COURT
A shadow is cast as the sun sets behind the Olympic Rings on April 21 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/CARL COURT

SA received a relatively favourable but tough draw for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics men’s football tournament in July and August.

SA were drawn with hosts Japan‚ France and Mexico in Group A for the Tokyo Games in the draw in Zurich in Switzerland on Wednesday.          

David Notoane’s Olympic team avoided the toughest two groups: Group D has Brazil‚ Germany‚ Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia; and Group C has Spain‚ Argentina‚ African champions Egypt and competitive Australia.

The easiest group appears to be B, where South Korea‚ Honduras‚ Romania and New Zealand will compete for the top two places to reach the quarterfinals.

While they avoided the toughest groupings‚ SA will still be up against it to qualify from Group A. But they might feel they are in with a chance.

France qualified as the fourth-placed finishers at the 2019 European U-21 Championships‚ but the strength of European football means they should still be considered group favourites.

Japan‚ as the hosts‚ will be difficult to beat. But their team had a disappointing 2020 Asian U-23 Championship‚ finishing last with just a point from a draw against Qatar in a group that also included Saudi Arabia and Syria‚ thus failing to reach the knockout stage.

Mexico are perennial qualifiers for World Cup and Olympic tournaments. They were champions of the 2020 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship ahead of fellow Tokyo qualifiers Honduras and are always tough to beat.

SA will be the underdogs in all three group clashes‚ but they will also feel they have a winning chance against Japan and Mexico.

2020 Tokyo Olympics men’s football tournament draw:

Group A: Japan‚ SA‚ Mexico‚ France

Group B: New Zealand‚ South Korea‚ Honduras‚ Romania

Group C: Egypt‚ Spain‚ Argentina‚ Australia

Group D: Brazil‚ Germany‚ Ivory Coast‚ Saudi Arabia

SA’s programme:

July 22: Japan v SA‚ Tokyo Stadium‚ Tokyo

July 25: France v SA‚ Saitama Stadium‚ Saitama

July 28: SA v Mexico‚ Sapporo Dome‚ Sapporo

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