Africa’s representatives at this year’s men’s Olympic football tournament were handed tricky fixtures following the draw for the group stage at FIFA headquarters in the Swiss city of Zurich on Friday.
Côte d’Ivoire was drawn in Group D alongside defending champions Brazil, Rio 2016 runners-up Germany and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt, two-time fourth-place finishers, will face off against two former winners of the competition Spain (Barcelona 1992) and Argentina (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008), and Australia in Group C.
South Africa, meanwhile, were also drawn against two former winners Mexico (London 2012) and France (Los Angeles 1984) and Japan, whose best result was a third-place finish in 1968.
The trio will be hoping to get through their respective groups and go all the way and emulate the feats by Nigeria and Cameroon who managed to win gold in 1996 and 2000, respectively.
Elsewhere, Africa’s sole representative in the women’s tournament, Zambia, was drawn in the same group (Group F) as Brazil, China and the Netherlands.
Hosts Japan were grouped with Canada, Great Britain and Chile in Group E while Group G, arguably the toughest one, will has Sweden, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.
Zambia, Chile and the Netherlands will be making their maiden appearances at the tournament.
Both the men’s and women’s Olympic Football Tournaments will be played in a group stage, followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and bronze medal and gold medal matches.