OLYMPICS 2000 - The African Qualification
Olympics 2000 Sydney -
The African Qualification
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Knock-out rounds reduced
the field to 12 teams. They were drawn into three groups with four teams
each. The winners will qualify for Sydney, that are three teams.
The Olympic title holders Under 23 team has yet (standing after 2 group matches, mid-February) mirrored the Nigerian problems of inconsistency during the recent years. Now Jo Bonfrere will try to rescue the campaign against talented opponents which already have built a lead.
In the preliminary knock-out round Nigeria had defeated Namibia 4-0 (home) + 2-3 (away)
Clemens Westerhof, the former Nigerian coach, has built this team as a team of future. And it looks to be a talented one. Yet (standing after 2 group matches, mid-February) they have been perfect. Although Zimbabwe has not accomplished major successes at the adult level yet, the name should be considered as one of the top third of African football. And this particular team even looks better and will serve as basis for the squad which will try to qualify for the World Cup 2002 and the African Cup Of Nations in the same year.
In the preliminary knock-out round Zimbabwe had defeated Mauritius 4-1 at home, before their opponents withdrew.
This Ugandan team has been a factor and especially at home dangerous. They might not have a chance to qualify but maybe they will become a factor, taking points of one or another team.
In the preliminary knock-out round Uganda had eliminated Zambia 1-0 (home) + 1-2 (away)
After recent disappointments this team has re-ignited some hope. The group might prove too strong, but they will try to stay within reach of at least the second place. Maybe the results of the direct Nigeria-Zimbabwe encounters will create an opportunistic scenario for the Angolans.
In the preliminary knock-out round Angola had defeated Botswana 4-2 (home) + 4-0 (away)
The South Africans take the Olympic qualifiers very important. It is reflected upon a lot in press and for the next games (standing after 2 group matches, mid-February) they will be able to field returner Benni McCarthy and the clashes with the West African giants in their group.
In the preliminary knock-out round South Africa had defeated Togo 2-2 (away) + 1-0 (home)
THE force in youth football and leaving out Nigeria also the most successful at Olympic games for Africa in the 90's. In 1992 they won Olympic Bronze and in 1996, after eliminating Italy, they lost in one of the best matches of the tournament, in quarter-finals against Brazil 2:3. But this time it seems as difficult to qualify as to win the whole tournament, drawn with two top teams in top form in one group. Even with prominent names like Peter Ofori-Quaye or Christian Gyan.
In the preliminary knock-out round Ghana had defeated Tanzania 2-1 (home) + 2-1 (away)
The new generation is also reflected in this all strong Under 23 side. Like Ghana prominent names from the new crowned African champions team have already played. The success of the indomitable lions at GhanaNigeria 2000 will even more boost the confidence of the Central Africans.
In the preliminary knock-out round Ghana had defeated Congo 5-0 (home) + 0-0 (away)
A traditionally strong force from West Africa, with recent results on the adult level that did not match their talent. But on youth level they have done better. Only the group looks a bit too much too leave them a chance.
In the preliminary knock-out round Ghana had defeated Gabon 4-1 (home) + 1-0 (away)
The team to watch: It consists mainly of the teenage team of ASEC Abidjan, who have been the sensation oof African football in 1999: After winning the African club championship in December 1998, the club dissolved the squad and replaced them with a group of players which had been educated since about 5 years ago in a club associated football school. To the surprise of many the group again made it under the best four of African clubs. This long hand build up also has served to build the team for the Olympic qualifiers and despite playing older opponents they have impressed yet. Their opponents are all a similar style: After dominating Algeria in the preliminary play-off they will now have to beat the elite of North Africa: Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt.
Preliminary round: Algeria (3:1 away, 1:1 home)
The African cup of Nations has shown the talent of Jaziri and Zitouni. Tunisias campaign is a postered image of their usual ambiguity: a small country with limited player ressources (in number) but a very good football infrastructure compensating for it. Slicing out a particular age group those two factors become even more emphasized.
In the preliminary round they escaped a possible defeat by Senegal: After drawing 1:1 at home, they won 2:1 at Dakar.
A new generation tries to make their mark: Most prominent name for Europeans is the VfB Stuttgart talent striker Hosny. The whole team looks quite good but only the upcoming matches against Côte d'Ivoire will be a measurement how far the team has developed.
In the preliminary round they have defeated Mali (1-1 away, 3-1 home), a country with some of the strongest youth teams at the continents recent competitions.
The team has served as an alternative to the first team as it contains home based players. But it looks as if Morocco, more like European teams, grows with age: This team plays some nice football but has not done much harm in their first away game at Abidjan.
In the preliminary round they have profited of a loack of money of their opponents DR Congo, who did not show up for the return leg at Morocco after winning the first leg 2:1.
Race for best second place (will reach play-off against New Zealand):
in bold and blue: this team is best runner-up and will play an extra playoff match against New Zealand
in bold and black: those teams finish second in their group but are eliminated
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