BOXSCORE: TOKYO, Japan (July 30, 2021) Out of the three African men’s football teams in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, two have advanced to the quarter-finals stage.
The Elephants of Ivory Coast and the Pharaohs of Egypt have booked their place in the quarter-finals after both teams finishing runners-up in their respective groups.
The Bafana Bafana of South Africa crashed out in the group stages, finishing last in a difficult Group A that saw Olympic host Japan top the group ahead of Concacaf power Mexico who advances to the knock-out stage.
World champions France also failed to make the cut and they will also be heading home together with South Africa.
Squeezing their way through Group C to the knockout stage at the expense of one of the medal favorites Argentina, the Pharaohs advanced on the basis of goal differential. Egypt advanced with European heavyweights the La Roja of Spain who went through as group leaders with five points and remains one of the favorites to win gold.
In Group D with two of the world’s football giants Brazil and Germany, The Elephants of Ivory Coast surprised keeping the African Olympic football dream alive by qualifying to the final eight.
Their surprising advancement coming at the expense of medal favorites Germany.
The Elephants had an impressive start in the tournament by winning 2:1 against Saudi Arabia before drawing the defending champions Brazil and Germany. With five points, the Ivory Coast settled for second behind Brazil’s seven points.
The Elephants of Ivory Coast will now face another tournament favorite Spain on Saturday before The Pharaohs of Egypt go head to head against Brazil on the same day.
Both the African teams will be going into their quarter-final encounter as underdogs as they face group leaders and favorites not only in both matches but to win gold in Tokyo.
Defending Champions Brazil have had a tough tournament but moving to the quarter-finals they will be a tough nut to crack as they are most certainly beginning to regain their confidence and belief that they can go ahead and defend the title they won five years ago on home soil in Rio 2016. The Pharaohs will be the underdogs against the Brazilians but nothing is impossible in football. It will be an interesting match to watch as both play a different style of play where Brazil depends on individual offensive brilliance whereas the Egyptians will depend on team continuity and defending.
The Ivory Coast is perhaps the strongest team among the two African teams and therefore the pressure is high on them. Facing Spain in the quarter-final is a potential nightmare matchup for the Elephants judging from the way Spain has been playing. The La Roja have already kept their intention known that they have come to Tokyo for nothing but the ultimate price and they have shown it in the way they have been playing.
Spain has been the most impressive team thus far however the Spaniards should not underestimate Ivory Coast who also has impressed so far with world-class players like Franck Kessié.
African teams have a proud record in the history of the Olympics men’s football having won gold twice in 1996 by The Super Eagles of Nigeria and in again in 2000 by Cameroon.
Ivory Coast and Egypt will be hoping to follow the lead of those other two great African sides as they carry the hopes of an entire continent.