Nigeria’s U-23 Team Begins Olympic Qualifier with Libya

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Nigeria's U-23 Team

Current Olympic bronze medallist, Nigeria, will begin their qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Games with a game against Libya in March next year.

Libya, expected to be on duties this week gained a walkover in their scheduled encounters with Gambia. Nigeria on the other hand are seeded to begin campaign from the second round.

The Nigerian team set a record in Rio when the John Mikel Obi-inspired team won the bronze medal, thus making Nigeria the first team to win the three available medals at the Olympic.

Nigeria won gold at Atlanta ’96, silver at Beijing 2008 before the bronze medal achievement two years ago.

Moments later, Brazil moments later won the gold to equal Nigeria’s feat having won the bronze medal at Beijing 2008 and silver at London 2012.

While Nigeria will wait till next year before starting off their qualifying campaign from the second round, Cameroon find themselves among minnows this week when the African qualifying series for Tokyo 2020 kicks off.

They will host Chad in Yaounde tomorrow with the second leg of the first round holding in N’Djamena next Tuesday. Chad are among the weakest football nations in the continent, never making an international impact at national team or club levels.

A Cameroon team including Samuel Eto’o won the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games gold medal match against Spain on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

However, poor results in the past two African qualifying competitions have prevented the central Africans being among 13 countries given byes to the second round.

In a 2012 London Olympics qualifier, Cameroon lost on penalties to Tanzania, and were ousted by Sierra Leone on away goals in a 2016 Rio de Janeiro eliminator.

With the Chad fixtures taking place during an international window, Cameroon can pick young foreign-based professionals as the qualifiers are an under-23 competition.

Ghana, bronze medalists at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, are another country who must compete in the first round, facing fellow west Africans Togo in Kumasi and Lome.

Like Cameroon, the fall from grace of Ghana can be traced to early exits from the last two qualifying competitions.

They were shocked by Sudan in a 2012 eliminator and eliminated by Congo Brazzaville after a penalty shootout in the last edition.

Guinea were among the African contenders at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, but have not qualified since.

They set off on a journey they hope will lead to Japan by travelling to Nouakchott for a match against Mauritania, a rapidly improving football nation.

It was also a long time ago that Sudan made their sole appearance, at the 1972 Munich Games, and their 2020 campaign begins away to the Seychelles.

Mauritius, the other Indian Ocean island state competing, visit Kenya, and there are also a number of match-ups between neighbouring countries.

Violence-torn Somalia make a rare international appearance, but the security situation in capital Mogadishu means the home fixture against Ethiopia has been moved to Djibouti.

First legs are scheduled for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with the return matches on Sunday and Tuesday.