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Olympic football: Ranking Africa’s representatives at Tokyo 2020




Ivory Coast lost to Spain

None of Africa’s representatives at the Games went beyond the quarter-final, although some individuals lit up the competition at times, while the quartet collectively overachieved considering their pre-tournament expectations.

After the four nations’ exits, Goal ranks their collective efforts at Tokyo 2020.

4. South Africa

Amaglug-glug did have some impressive individual performances, but they arguably underperformed to exit bottom in Group A.

They fired blanks in two of their three games and frustratingly let a 3-2 lead against France slip in the final five minutes.

While Teboho Mokoena and Luke Fleurs thrived, for the most part, the team’s failings meant they were the only African nation to end without a point across both the men and women’s competitions.

3. Zambia

Of course, it’d be remiss to mention the Southern African nation without thinking of Barbra Banda’s heroics in front of goal.

The forward thrived at the Games, netting two hat-tricks, but was ultimately let down by her nation’s defensive failings — they conceded 14 goals in their opening two games against the Netherlands and China, including a 10-3 hammering by the Dutch.

Zambia did face an uphill task in a group comprising Brazil and the European nation, so maybe the necessary context should be considered.

2. Ivory Coast

The West African nation were literally seconds away from sealing a shock victory over pre-tournament favourites Spain, only to concede an equalizer at the death having gone 2-1 up in the 91st minute.

Soualiho Haidara’s team tired and eventually collapsed in extra time and were eliminated following several defensive fiascos.

Perhaps, things could have been different for the Little Elephants had they taken advantage of Brazil playing with a man less for over an hour in their group stage encounter.

Beating the South Americans could have meant they topped Group D, thus facing Egypt in the quarter-finals, rather than the European nation.

1. Egypt

Shawky Gharib’s team were probably Africa’s finest reps, although they were also quite flawed in their approach at times.

Opting to play within themselves for their opening two games was rather risky and could have easily backfired. They owed much to the heroics of Mohamed El Shenawy in goal, Ahmed Hegazi at centre-back and Akram Tawfik’s midfield dynamism.

A 1-0 defeat against Brazil saw them exit in the last eight, thus missing out on an opportunity to claim their first medal in the men’s tournament, although they still overachieved in defeating Australia to eliminate Argentina.

Best moments to remember

Without a doubt, Banda’s remarkable goalscoring has to be Africa’s number one moment in Tokyo.

The Zambia forward netted two back-to-back trebles against the Netherlands and China, becoming the first female player in Olympics history to record the feat. It also saw her become the first player to net two hat-tricks in one tournament.

Ivory Coast making the quarter-final in the men’s section meant they matched the 2008 iteration’s achievement, even if there may be a tinge of disappointment at their failure to hold on against Spain.



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