Coaches and players react to Tokyo 2020 draw

20 Apr 2021
  • Official draw made for Women's Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020

  • Japan open with Canada in Group E

  • 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 Women's Olympic Football Tournament was conducted in Zurich.

Hosts Japan will play Canada in their opening match in Group E, where they will also face Great Britain and Chile in the section. Group G looks especially intriguing as it features both co-hosts of the next FIFA Women’s World Cup™, Australia and New Zealand, and it also gives USA the chance for Olympic revenge over a Sweden side that eliminated them from Rio 2016 on penalties. China PR, Brazil, Zambia and the Netherlands comprise the other pool.

Group E

“The players and everyone involved in the team were disappointed to miss out on the 2016 Olympics, and we haven’t forgotten that feeling. The players are happy to be back in the tournament but they know the responsibility they carry. We’re both playing strong teams, but it’s great for the players and our teams. We have to understand what we’ll struggle with and think about how we’ll manage. What’s going to be important is uniting as a team. I hope we’ll be able to overcome the difficult circumstances we’re all in and play together." Nadeshiko head coach Asako Takakura

“There is no doubt we have been drawn in a very exciting group. The host nation Japan are an extremely talented team and have been a strong force in women’s football for many years. Canada are another very good physical team, as we saw earlier this month when England and Wales both faced them at home in the April FIFA window. Chile are not a team I know quite as well, but they put in a very impressive performance against Cameroon to secure their place in this summer’s Games for the first time in their history. The players on our shortlist for Great Britain know what is expected of them if they are to make our 18-player squad. Physical and mental resilience, together with versatility, will be very important to our chances of success at the Games. These are the qualities we need in order to cope with the demands of Olympic tournament football, with a high frequency of games over a short period of time. We will name our GB squad towards the end of May and with our first training camp now only eight weeks away we can’t wait to get started." Team GB head coach Hege Riise

Group F

"For the China PR women's team, we will enter the Olympic Games with optimism and try to showcase the spirit of the Steel Roses. We hope our players can show what they are capable of in front of the watching world. Of course, the competition will be tough at this stage. No team will be easy. We will definitely give 200 per cent of us in each game. We have our dreams, we want to play good football, we expect to achieve good results. This requires a collective effort by all, the entire team, including our supporters." China PR coach Jia Xiuquan

"China is a technical team, also a tough, cohesive and aggressive team, they are preparing a lot for this competition. The Netherlands played in the World Cup final, and we know that it is a very good team, we know all the players because we’ve seen them many times. In this type of game, the players on the wings will be very important both in defence and in attack. And last but certainly not least, for Zambia we will have the chance to know a little more about them as we play them last, but my experience is that they are always very strong, fast and organised tactically." Brazil coach Pia Sundhage

"It's not that easy, of course. We reached a high level in the last tournaments and we reached the final. If we reach that level, we will indeed have to get through the group phase. It's not like we go there and say we'll see where we end. If you win more matches in the group, you will in principle encounter easier opponents in the next round." Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman via AD

Group G

"It's difficult at the moment to say whether it is a good draw or not. Of course, there are three good opponents waiting, but from a logistical point of view, it looks like it will be a good setup. As always when you step into a championship, there is great focus on the first match and now it will of course be a good challenge to face the first-ranked USA. Above all, it feels good that we now know the opposition that awaits, and in which cities we will play. This gives us the opportunity to start working even more clearly with our planning and our preparations, everything from travel logistics to being able to start working with the analysis of the upcoming opponents." Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson

“We have great respect for all three of our group opponents and we know this tournament will push us to our limits both mentally and physically, as well as challenge us every game technically and tactically, so we will do everything we can in the next three months to prepare for success.” USA women's head coach Vlatko Andonovski

"Obviously, it's a tough draw in terms of top ranked teams from each pot. But it also means we have a lot of knowledge about the teams. Sweden, I know a lot about for natural reasons. The USA, I've been working with for years. And then obviously, all my staff know a lot about New Zealand as well. So we have a good insight of what we're facing. But I do look forward to making sure that this team is challenged against the best because we're on a long journey to prepare for the 2023 Women’s World Cup as well." Australia coach Tony Gustavsson

“We are in a group with three other very strong teams, including the world champions, but these are the opportunities we want to prove ourselves at the highest level. After not being able to play for the past year it is brilliant to finally have our opponents for Tokyo 2020 confirmed and we couldn’t have picked a better first opponent in our FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 co-hosts Australia. The whole squad are now just enormously excited to get to Japan and get the competition underway." Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni