Wednesday, July 23, 2008

African Football at the 2008 Olympics


The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China are but a few weeks away.

The men's Olympic Football Tournament looks like it will be a hotly contested competition, with countries like Argentina, Holland and the United States seeking Olympic gold.

Africa will be well represented with three formidable squads in the 16-team tournament for the gold medal.

Former gold medalists Nigeria and Cameroon are joined by newcomers the Ivory Coast.

Cameroon and Ivory Coast were assured of qualification as far back as November 2007, with victories in their penultimate games to ensure that they couldn't be overtaken by the other contenders in their respective groups.

Cameroon triumphed in a tough section in which Morocco were their major rivals, finishing their campaign with a 1-0 win at home over Botswana, surprise qualifiers from the preliminary knockout rounds.

Serge Ngal, the Portugal-based striker knocking on the door of selection to the national side, got the only goal for Cameroon's U-23 side in their win to ensure they finished four points clear at the top of Group C.

Cameroon were the last African side to win men's football Olympic gold, winning at the Sydney Games in 2000. This time around, they're considered the weakest of the three African representatives at Beijing 2008.

Ivory Coast are the team to watch.

They finished a comfortable five points clear at the top of Group B. The Elephants' U-23 side boasts several players who are also part of the star-studded senior Ivorian squad, which reached the last four at the recent African Cup of Nations in Ghana.

They lost their opening Group B game against Zambia but then won the next five to stride into the Beijing Games.

Captain Gervais Yao Kouassi, better known as Gervinho, a regular in French side Le Mans, has been an impressive performer along with Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou, who was drafted in for the key qualifier against Zambia last year, when he scored to help ensure qualification.

Meanwhile, Sekou Cisse, who plays his club football in the Netherlands, scored both goals in the Ivorians' last match, a 2-1 away win over Senegal in Dakar in March.

Yet it is Nigeria who are expected be the most charismatic of the African representatives.

The Eagles stormed into the 2008 Games after a 3-0 win over South Africa on Wednesday. The Group A match in Abuja marked the return of Olympique Marseille defender Taye Taiwo and the debut of Everton striker Victor Anichebe, who came off the bench to score Nigeria's third goal.

Taiwo had earlier broken the deadlock in the first half before South African defender Thapelo Tshilo put through his own goal to double the Super Eagles' lead in Abuja.

The African squads won't have an easy go at it.

The Ivory Coast is in Group A along with Argentina, Australia and Serbia.

Nigeria sinks their talons into Holland, Japan and the USA in Group B.

And Cameroon tries to get past Italy, South Korea and Honduras in Group D.

Here are all the teams scheduled to be at the 2008 tournament for Olympic Gold. The competition begins August 6th with the champion crowned August 24th. Men's teams are allowed to augment their squad with three players over the age of 23.

Qualifiers for Beijing 2008
CONMEBOL: Brazil and Argentina.
UEFA: Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Serbia.
CAF: Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Nigeria.
OFC: New Zealand.
CONCACAF: Honduras and the United States.
AFC: Australia, Japan and Korea Republic.
Host nation: China.

Please click here for groups, standings and schedules.

4 comments:

Don said...

Hello,

May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

URL: http://www.2008chinaolympics.com
Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,

Don
chinaolympics8@gmail.com

Mberenis said...

LOL that is funny. You will like this site too! 2008 Beijing Olympics

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