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Tokyo Olympics 2020: How do teams qualify for the final round – Men’s football qualification process explained

The qualification process for the final round of the men’s football tournament at the Olympics explained…

Men’s football in Olympics started in 1900 in France where London-based now-defunct club Upton Park FC, representing Great Britain, had won the gold medal.

Since then, football has been played in 26 editions at the Olympics. 1932 Los Angeles Olympics was the only edition where football was not played as reportedly FIFA wanted to promote the World Cup which started in 1930.

Hungary and Great Britain (including Upton Park’s triumph) are the most successful teams in the history of the Olympics with three gold medals each followed by Argentina, Uruguay and the Soviet Union, who have two golds each. Five-time World Cup winners Brazil have only won the gold medal (2016) once in history.

The Tokyo Olympics will be the 28th edition of the games where football will be played. 16 teams have qualified from six continents who will take part in the competition this year.

From Asia, there will be four teams including hosts Japan. Europe are the only other continent from four nations that will be participating.

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Here is how the 16 teams from six continents have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

How do Asian teams qualify for the Olympic games?

44 Asian teams were divided into 11 groups for the AFC U23 Championship 2020 qualifiers. From the qualifiers, 11 group toppers and four best runner-ups qualified for the AFC U23 Championship 2020. Thailand, being the hosts, of the tournament had automatically qualified.

South Korea v Saudi Arabia, AFC U23 Championship final, 26 Jan 2020

The AFC U23 Championship acted as the AFC qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The U23 Championship was held in Thailand from January 8 to January 26, 2020. South Korea defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final to win the title while Australia defeated Uzbekistan 1-0 to finish third and qualify for the Olympics along with South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

How did India peform in the Olympic qualifiers?

India who took part in the preliminary qualification round were ousted from the group stage after finishing third behind Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. India lost both their ties, 3-0 against Uzbekistan and 2-0 against Tajikistan in the group stage.

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How do European teams qualify for the Olympics?

The UEFA European U21 Championship qualification is the first round of qualification for the Olympics. 54 teams were divided into nine groups. The nine group toppers automatically qualified for the European U21 Championship while the best four runners-up played a play-off match among themselves to determine two more qualifying teams. Italy being the host of the tournament were the 12th team in U21 Championship.

Saul Niguez Asensio Spai Italy European U21

Spain won the Championship beating Germany 2-1 in the final which was held between June 16 to June 30. The other three qualifying teams are Germany, France and Romania.

How do South American teams qualify for the Olympics?

The CONMEBOL pre-Olympic tournament was held between January 19 to February 9, 2020. 10 South American nations were divided into two groups. The top two teams from each group qualified for the final stage where they played a round-robin stage. Argentina and Brazil finished first and second respectively and qualified for the final tournament.

How do African teams qualify for the Olympics?

In the first stage of the qualification, 43 African teams competed in three rounds of qualification and seven teams and host Egypt qualified for the Africa U23 Cup of Nations tournament which also acted as the final round of qualification for the Olympics.

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Ramadan Sobhi -  Egypt U23

The tournament was held between November 8 to November 22 with Egypt winning the title beating Ivory Coast 2-1 in the final. South Africa finished third beating Ghana 6-5 (2-2) in the penalty shootout to become the third team to qualify for the Olympic games.

How do CONCACAF teams qualify for the Olympics?

Eight teams out of 25 qualified for the 2020 CONCACAF Men’s Olympics Qualification round. Mexico and Honduras made it to the final tournament and Mexico won the competition beating Honduras 5-4 (1-1) in the penalty shootout.

How do Oceania teams qualify for the Olympics?

Eight teams from the Oceania continent were divided into two groups in the qualification round from where four teams made it to the semifinal. New Zealand eventually qualified for the tournament beating Solomon Islands 5-0 in the final.

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