Australia’s Matildas and Olyroos have discovered their Group Stage opponents for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Football Tournaments after the Final Draw for both competitions was conducted at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Wednesday evening (AEST).
This year’s Games – postponed for 12 months due to the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – marks the first time that both the Matildas and Olyroos have competed at the same Games since Athens 2004.
The Olyroos were drawn in Group C alongside Egypt, Spain and Argentina, while the Matildas were drawn in Group G and will take on Sweden, United States of America, and New Zealand.
The Olyroos’ Group Stage campaign will take them to the Japanese cities of Sapporo and Rifu, while the Matildas will play their pool matches in Tokyo, Saitama, and Kashima.
Australia’s pools threw up plenty of storylines, with the green and gold set to renew acquaintances with Argentina – a team they tackled at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 – and the Matildas taking on coach Tony Gustavsson’s native Sweden, Australia’s co-hosts of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, New Zealand, and the world’s number one ranked nation, USA.
Olyroos Head Coach Graham Arnold said the opportunity for many of Australia’s best young players to challenge themselves against the world’s best would be great for their careers.
“I believe we have received a fantastic draw, and it will be a great experience for our boys,” Arnold said. “In the past playing against Argentina has brought the best out of Australian footballers, while the opportunity for us to play against a top African nation in Egypt, as well as Spain, is a great opportunity to show what we have got.”
“My expectations are very high from ourselves as a team. With the delay of the Olympics for a year due to COVID, it has enabled our players to get a lot of game time, and I truly believe that we are in a better position at this time than last year. A good number of players are playing every week.”
“The Olympics is the second biggest stage in international football after the World Cup, and the next few months will present a great opportunity for our team to perform well, but also for individuals to commence the next part of their careers.”
Matildas Head Coach Tony Gustavsson shared his enthusiasm about taking on three nations with significant ties to Australia’s senior women’s national football team.
“Let it all begin, I am so excited,” Gustavsson said. “Obviously it’s a tough draw in terms of top ranked teams. For each pot, we’ve got the toughest, the highest-ranking teams. So that’s a tough one, but it also means we have a lot of knowledge about the teams.”
“Obviously, Sweden, I know a lot about for natural reasons. The US I’ve been working with for four years. And then obviously, all my staff know a lot about New Zealand as well. We have a good insight of what we’re facing, so let’s start preparing. I can’t wait to go to the Games!”
“Now we know who we’re going to face in the Group Stage it is about doing the analysis as good as possible. We already have some of those things in place already when it comes to all the opponents in the Olympics. Now we are nailing down to these three opponents in the Group Stage to have a plan and a game plan for each one of them. We will then keep scouting them from now up until the to the Olympics to get updated on those analysis processes.”
Men’s Football Tournament – Tokyo 2020
Group C: Egypt, Spain, Argentina, Australia
Australia Match Dates/Locations: July 22 v Argentina (Sapporo Dome, Sapporo), July 25 v Spain (Sapporo Dome, Sapporo), July 28 v Egypt (Miyagi Stadium, Rifu)
Women’s Football Tournament – Tokyo 2020
Group G: Sweden, United States of America, Australia, New Zealand
Australia Match Dates/Locations: July 21 v New Zealand (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo), July 24 v Sweden (Saitama Stadium, Saitama), July 27 v United States of America (Kashima Stadium, Kashima)