Olympic qualifiers in full swing
The qualification matches for the men's Olympic Football Tournament Sydney 2000 are in full swing. So far, four finalist teams are already known: Japan, Korea Republic and Kuwait (AFC) plus hosts Australia.
In Africa (CAF), 12 teams divided into three groups of four teams each, have started with the second round that is due to finish at the end of March 2000. The winners of the three groups will qualify for the final tournament, whereas the best runner up will play off against the winner of the Oceania (OFC) tournament.
This Oceania team will already be known before the end of this year since the OFC qualifiers are due next in Auckland from 11 to 20 December. New Zealand, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Samoa have enrolled for this competition.
In early 2000, Olympic action will move to South America, where the 10 Conmebol member associations will battle it out for the two tickets to Sydney at the qualifying tournament in Brazil from 18 January to 6 February 2000.
Another two slots will be up for grabs in the Concacaf region in March and April 2000. The next round of qualifying games will take place in Panama, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago. Five teams will emerge from Group A in Panama, Group B in Mexico and Group C in Trinidad and Tobago to join the United States in the final qualifying group, which will be played in the USA from April 21 to April 30, 2000. From that final group, the two Concacaf qualifiers for Sydney will be determined.
Last but not least will be UEFA whose U-21 European Championship also serves as qualifying tournament for Sydney. The finals will be played in May 2000, with the top four teams travelling down under later in the same year.
The quotas at a glance:
Australia qualifies automatically as host nation, the remaining 15 teams are determined through regional competitions: AFC (3), CAF/OFC (4*), CONCACAF (2), CONMEBOL (2), UEFA (4). *The team coming fourth in CAF's tournament will compete in a play-off against the winner of OFC's tournament.