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

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTH­OWA­GAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­

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

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