Rio is going to be a ball
Football will be played across the length and breadth of the host country, and many contestants have already qualified
Nigeria Following the conclusion of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal last night, Africa’s three representatives took the tally of nations that have already qualified for the men’s Olympic football tournament in Brazil next year to 12.
Nigeria and Algeria had already booked their places at the Rio Olympic Games by virtue of reaching the final of the continental tournament while South Africa and Senegal were due to contest the third-place play-off at the time of going to print to determine the last spot for CAF’s representatives.
South Africa had lost 2-0 to Algeria in the semifinals midweek.
After last night’s tournament in Senegal, there are now only four slots open to complete the 16-nation line-up for the Rio Games in August next year.
These will be filled early next year by three top teams from the Asian Football Confederation Under23 Championship in Qatar next month, as well as the winner of the play-off between the US and Colombia in March (see graphic).
Other than hosts Brazil, the 2012 Olympic silver medallists, the other prominent nations in the men’s tournament in Rio include defending champions Mexico and 2004 and 2008 gold medallists Argentina.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Banyana Banyana and Zimbabwe are among the five nations that have joined the Brazilians in the women’s Olympic tournament so far. The others are Germany, France and Colombia.
The full female complement of 12 competing nations will be established in March next year after the six other berths are filled by way of qualifying events involving the confederations of Asia; North and Central America and the Caribbean (Concacaf); Oceania; and Europe.
Hosts Japan, North Korea, Australia, China, South Korea and Vietnam will battle it out for Asia’s two Olympic berths in the final qualifying phase between February 29 and March 9.
Concacaf stages its qualifying tournament between February 10-21 in the US to determine the two teams that will qualify for Rio.
Contesting the eight-nation Concacaf tournament will be defending Olympic champions USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Guatemala, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
Either of New Zealand or Papua New Guinea will be Oceania’s sole representative. They will play a twolegged decider next month.
The Netherlands will host a mini tournament in March next year to decide Europe’s final contestant. Other contenders are Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
The draw for the men’s and women’s tournaments will be made in May – three months before the Games kick off in August.
In total, 58 Olympic football matches across the men’s and women’s competitions will be played in six cities and seven stadiums from August 3 to 20 in Brazil.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) Algeria and Nigeria booked automatic berths to Rio by virtue of reaching the final of the CAF Under-23 Africa Algeria Cup of Nations, which ended in Senegal last night. Africa’s third representative was due to be confirmed in the play-off for third between SA and Senegal that was still to be played at the time of going to print
Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) By winning the OFC Men’s Olympic Football Qualifying Tournament in July, Fiji claimed Oceania’s sole slot at Rio 2016