- Official draw made for Men's Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020
- Hosts Japan will open against South Africa in Group A
- Here's how various coaches and players have been reacting to the draw
An exciting milestone on the road to Tokyo 2020 gold was reached on Wednesday when the official draw for the Men's Olympic Football Tournament was conducted in Zurich.
Hosts Japan will play South Africa in their opening match, while Brazil and Germany, who faced off in the Rio 2016 final, were sent into a Group D also comprising Côte d'Ivoire and Saudi Arabia, while Egypt, Spain, Argentina and Australia make up another intriguing section.
"I think it will be a difficult group. It’s going to be hard to reach the knockout stage, but our goal isn’t just to get through the group stage, it’s to win the gold, so whatever group we’re in that goal isn’t changing. We need players who can have an impact on the pitch, who have been core members of the national team, can keep the team steady with their experience and work well with the U-24 players. I think we’ll absolutely need overage players in order to play our best."
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu
"We now know the identity of our opponents. It is a tough draw but a good draw and I am very excited. This is a group in which preparations are critical. If we apply ourselves fully, we can get to the knockout stages."
South Africa coach David Notoane
"It's a group full of promise in terms of entertainment with a very interesting variety of football. Mexico is a reference in terms of the Olympic Football Tournament as they won the tournament in 2012 against Brazil. Everybody know Japanese football has improved. Our group will play in Tokyo. To be in the Olympic Village, in the heart of the Olympic Games will be something special for sure."
France coach Sylvain Ripoll
“Firstly, I’m delighted to be talking about international football after the past year. The whole squad has been waiting for the opportunity to represent the country and are hugely excited about going to Japan to do so. There are no easy games in international football but it is fair to say we did manage to avoid some of the traditionally bigger nations, I probably owe Ryan a drink for that. We just can’t wait to get over there now and start playing to properly test ourselves and on the world stage."
New Zealand Danny Hay
"There is no team weaker than us. I will make sure we prepare our best and that we win a medal."
Korea Republic coach Kim Hakbum
"Football has things from the past, because one cannot forget its history to continue moving forward, one can dream, get excited, plan for the future, but in reality, football is the present. So, we can aspire to improve that, but not be tied to previous results, because they are neither the same players, nor the same coach nor the same tournament. Comparisons are worthless in this case."
Honduras coach Miguel Falero asked if there is pressure for the team to equal or better their fourth place-finish at Rio 2016
"At first glance, it seems a good group, but unpredictable. I am confident that we will achieve an important performance. I said it before EURO 2019 that we go to the final tournament to make life difficult for any opponent and to qualify for the Olympic Games. I still say that I want an Olympic medal."
Romania coach Mirel Radoi
Egypt coach Shawky Gharieb watched the draw with his staff in Cairo. The Pharaohs will be competing at Tokyo 2020 as African champions.
"We were excited about the draw because we want to start living this important event and because we are moved and excited about living this experience. We are very excited because it is a unique event that generates great expectations throughout the country and we know that the whole world of sport in Spain will follow us. We are in a very tough and difficult group, but the illusion that we carry is above any adversity in terms of the difficulty that we could have with the opponents. We are three continental champions in addition to Australia and it is sure to be difficult."
Spain coach Luis de la Fuente
“Now we can begin to analyse each rival, although we know Spain is one of those teams that you have to be focused and play a perfect match to be able to beat them. I don’t make excuses and whoever we get, we have to play. To reach the goal you have to face the best. Argentina has a history in world football and you have to work every game."
Argentina coach Fernando Batista, speaking with Radio Colonia
“I believe we have received a fantastic draw, and it will be a great experience for our boys. In the past playing against Argentina has brought the best out of Australian footballers, while the opportunity for us to play against a top African nation in Egypt, as well as Spain, is a great opportunity to show what we have got. The Olympics is the second biggest stage in international football after the World Cup, and the next few months will present a great opportunity for our team to perform well, but also for individuals to commence the next part of their careers."
Australia coach Graham Arnold
“It’s a big debut for us – a global classic, the final of the last Olympics, in a stadium in which we have great memories of a World Cup Final that Brazil won.”
Brazil coach Andre Jardine
"One cannot speak of the typical German luck of the draw. I think groups C and D will be the hardest groups. Eighty to ninety per cent of the players in the Côte d'Ivoire play in Europe. I saw Saudi Arabia at the Asian Championships in Thailand, the team has an unusual style and a special mentality. And you don't really have to say much about Brazil - we all remember great duels between the senior national teams and the final of the 2016 Olympic Games."
Germany coach Stefan Kuntz
"Represent your country with honour," said Saudi Arabia's Saad Al-Shehri.