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Matildas dealt difficult draw for Paris Olympics

Matildas vice-captain Emily van Egmond on Olympics draw

Source: Nine

The Matildas have been dealt a horrible hand as they strive to win their first Olympic medal.

The draw for the women’s and men’s soccer tournaments for the Paris Games were held at a ceremony in Saint-Denis on Thursday night French time.

Tony Gustavsson’s side was placed in Group B along with the US, Germany and a yet-to-be-determined representative from the African Football Confederation.

The World Cup semi-finalists, who defeated Uzbekistan 13-0 on aggregate last month to book their ticket, will take on the record four-time gold medal-winning American outfit.

Ranked world No.4, the US is coached by Sam Kerr’s former Chelsea boss Emma Hayes.

Australia will also meet the fifth-ranked Germans and either Morocco or Zambia.

“We knew no matter who we’re going to get that this is a tournament filled of quality teams,” Gustavsson said on Thursday.

“We can talk about three games yes, but at the end of the day we need to narrow it down to the opening game against Germany.”

Matildas vice-captain Emily van Egmond is expecting Germany to give her side a run for their money.

“With Germany, for them not having been in Tokyo (Olympics), they had a real point to prove,” van Egmond said on Thursday.

“Given how hard it was for people to qualify within Europe, I’m expecting a pretty tough opponent in Germany.

“You look at the likes of Sweden and England, who obviously missed out [on Olympics qualification], so that right there tells you it’s becoming increasingly more difficult.”

Defending champion Canada was drawn in Group A with host France, Colombia and New Zealand.

World Cup-winner Spain is in Group C with Japan and Brazil, while Nigeria or South Africa will join that group as another CAF qualifier.

Host France will play the US in Marseille to kick-off the men’s tournament on July 24, two days before the opening ceremony in Paris.

New Zealand and the winner of a play-off between Guinea and the fourth-placed team in the Asian qualifying competition, possibly Australia’s Olyroos, complete Group A.

The US is competing at the Games for the first time since Beijing 2008 and faces a potentially daunting first-up task against a side coached by soccer great Thierry Henry.

“The Olympics … my dad would wake me up at night to watch Carl Lewis,” Henry said at the draw ceremony.

“I cried when we did not qualify, even if I had won the World Cup before.

“We didn’t have a preference [for the draw]; the first goal is to get through the group phase and see what happens on the other side.

“We haven’t won it in 40 years. It’s not easy, but we will try everything.”

France claimed gold in Los Angeles back in 1984.

World champion Argentina has drawn in Group B with Morocco, Ukraine and an AFC qualifier.

Spain, runner-up in Tokyo, is in Group C along with Egypt, Dominican Republic and another qualifier from the AFC.

Group D features Paraguay, Mali and Israel as well as a final qualifier from the AFC.

Two-time defending champion Brazil failed to qualify.

Men’s Olympic soccer is national U23 teams with three roster spots available for players over the age limit.

The tournament will begin two days before the opening ceremony of the Games on July 24, with the women’s final concluding the event on August 10.

It is the first time the women’s final will wrap up the soccer tournament.

It will be staged across several venues in France, including Paris, Nantes, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice, Saint-Etienne and Lyon.

Topics: Matildas
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