Tokyo Olympics Men’s Football: Ivory Coast Defeat Saudi Arabia; Egypt Draw Spain
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By Amaechi Agbo
Africa representatives at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics men’s football event on Thursday had mixed fortunes as Ivory Coast, Egypt and South Africa recorded win, draw and a loss respectively in their various matches decided, Bestchoicesports.com.ng can report.
AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie scored in Ivory Coast’s 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia as they rekindled hope of a good outing for the continent.
Franck Kessie scored the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute and Ivory Coast beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 Thursday in its opening match in the men’s Olympic football tournament.
Ivory Coast was making its first Olympic appearance since the 2008 Beijing Games, when the team advanced to the knockout stage. Saudi Arabia hasn’t been to an Olympics in football since 1996.
Ivory Coast went ahead 1-0 late in the first half after an own-goal from defender Abdulelah Alamri, but Saudi Arabia rebounded when Salem Aldawsari scored in the 44th minute.
Kessie, who plays for AC Milan, scored off a pass from Manchester United forward Amad Diallo.
The two teams are in a tough group at the Olympics with Brazil, the gold medalists from the 2016 Games, and Germany, the silver medalists who lost to the Brazilians on penalties at the Maracana Stadium four years ago
In other matches, Spain were held to a goalless draw by Egypt in the opening game of the Olympic men’s football competition despite the inclusion of Euro 2020 young player of the tournament Pedri.
A frustrating result for Spain was compounded by an ankle injury to Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos as they struggled to break Egypt down.
Ceballos had Spain’s best effort, hitting the post in the first half.
Former West Brom defender Ahmed Hegazi played a key role in keeping Spain out.
Along with Pedri, there were several members of Spain’s Euro 2020 squad on display, with Mikel Oyarzabal, Dani Olmo, Pau Torres and Eric Garcia all in the starting line-up.
Spain were knocked out of the Euros by champions Italy on penalties in the semi-final.
At the losing end was South Africa who lost 1-0 to his Japan.
France’s Olympic tournament got off to a disastrous start as they were thrashed 4-1 by Mexico.
The best chance of a tight first half fell to Diego Lainez but his shot was cleared off the line.
Lainez was the creator of Mexico’s second-half opener, crossing for Alexis Vega to head home. Sebastian Cordova then doubled the lead with a neat finish at the near post.
Pierre-Andre Gignac pulled one back for France from the penalty spot, but two late goals for Mexico from Uriel Antuna and Eduardo Aguirre sealed the win.
Elsewhere, New Zealand made history with their first ever win in men’s football at the Olympics – a 1-0 victory over South Korea.
The goal came from Burnley striker Chris Wood, who tapped in from close range. Former West Ham defender Winston Reid played a critical role in keeping their clean sheet.
Japan 1 – 0 South Africa
Mexico 4 – 1 France
Romania 1 – 0 Honduras
New Zealand 1 – 0 South Korea
Australia 2 – 0 Argentina
Egypt 0 – 0 Saudi Arabia
Brazil 4 – 2 Germany
Ivory Coast 2 – 1 Saudi Arabia