A glittering draw ceremony at London’s Wembley Stadium saw the pathway to glory marked out for the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments this July and August.
The men’s edition saw Great Britain, Uruguay and Switzerland move a step closer to ending a long absence from the Olympic Games. The former two were pitted with each other alongside United Arab Emirates and Senegal. Switzerland will have to overcome seeded nation Mexico to progress from Group B, while the other seeded teams – Brazil and Spain – will be satisfied with their respective draws.
The women’s draw saw three highly competitive groups lined up with Great Britain to face Brazil, world champions Japan up against Sweden, while USA’s meeting with France is set to be a tournament highlight.
Join FIFA.com as we review the prospects of the 28 teams across the two tournaments following the draw.
Great Britain enter the games as hosts, appearing for the first time since Rome 1960, and won three of the first four instalments of the tournament. Senegal are making their first appearance at the games, having negotiated their way through Monday's play-off game in Coventry against Oman, winning 2-0. UAE are making their debut in the tournament, being the only unseeded AFC team to progress through the qualifying tournament, making it out of a tough group containing Australia, Iraq and Uzbekistan. Uruguay are making their first appearance at the games since their dominance back in the 1920s, when the side won gold at both Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928.
Mexico are making their ninth appearance at the games, coming in as the winners of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, but no team from the region has won a medal in over 100 years. Korea Republic are the recent stalwarts of the competition, having appeared in the last seven competitions (since Seoul hosted the games in 1988) but only reached the knockout stages once – in Athens 2004. Gabon are making their debut in the tournament, but come into the games as the winner of the CAF qualifying tournament. Switzerland make their first appearance at the Olympics for over 80 years, after impressing many to finish second in the UEFA European U-21 Football Championships.
Brazil triumphed at the 2011 South American Youth Championship to make their way to the games, with an Olympic gold the only major football tournament the nation has yet to win, claiming two silver and two bronze medals in the last 30 years. Egypt are the African team who have qualified the most times for the games (11), but this will be their first appearance in 20 years and they are yet to claim a medal. Belarus make their first appearance at the games. They were the surprise package at the UEFA European U-21 Football Championships, qualifying from their group by the tightest of margins before going on to beat the Czech Republic in the Olympic play-off. New Zealand make their second successive appearance, having never qualified for a tournament before Beijing 2008.
Spain come into the tournament as winners of the UEFA European U-21 Football Championships and are the most successful European side of the last 30 years, winning gold at Barcelona 1992 and silver eight years later. Japan have appeared in the last five tournaments and are Asia’s only ever medal winners, claiming bronze at Mexico 1968. They are also Asia’s joint-most successful qualifiers. Honduras are appearing in their second successive tournament and third overall – all coming since the turn of the millennium. Morocco are now Africa’s second most successful side in Olympic qualifying (seven), overtaking former gold medal winners Cameroon and Nigeria with this year’s appearance.
Great Britain arrive as hosts, making their first appearance in the tournament and as a women’s team full stop. New Zealand make their second appearance at the games, finishing tenth in Beijing 2008, having beaten Papua New Guinea to make it to this year’s games. Cameroon make their debut appearance at the games, having seen off tournament regulars Nigeria on penalties in the CAF Women’s Pre-Olympic tournament. Brazil come into the tournament after two successive silver medal finishes, having made it to the final four in every tournament so far, with Marta leading them to victory in the South American Women’s Football Championship and qualification this time around.
Japan come into the tournament as FIFA Women’s World Cup™ winners, after having a fantastic 2011, and narrowly missed out on the bronze medal at the last tournament’s instalment. Canada make their second trip to the games, following an eighth-placed finish at Beijing 2008, having finished second to the USA in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament – where captain Christine Sinclair top scored with nine goals. Sweden have appeared at every edition of the women’s tournament, reaching the bronze medal match in Athens 2004, and reached London 2012 having finished third at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011. South Africa make their debut at the tournament after seeing off Ethiopia in their final game of the CAF Women’s Pre-Olympic tournament.
In five instalments of the competition so far the USA have been in every final, only losing once – to Norway at Sydney 2000, and reach this year’s games after triumphing at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament. France make it to their first Olympic games having finished fourth at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup as the second-highest finishing European side. Colombia also are taking part in their first games, having finished as runners-up to Brazil in the South American Women’s Football Championship. Korea DPR made their debut at Beijing 2008, where they finished ninth, before finishing second in the Women's Asian Qualifiers to make it to London 2012.