SA, Nigeria to renew rivalry in bid for Olympics place

SA, Nigeria to renew rivalry in bid for Olympics place
Teboho Mokoena of South Africa during the 2019 U23 Olympic Qualifier 2020 match between South Africa and Zimbabwe at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto on the 06 September 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by Nick Said

Thursday Oct 03, 2019. 10:00

South Africa and Nigeria will renew their fierce rivalry in international football after they were drawn together in Group B at the 2019 African Under-23 Championships to be staged in Egypt from November 8-22.

The pair, who have had a number of titanic battles down the years in senior men’s and women’s football, as well as at age0-group level, will be at it again at the continental championship, where the top three teams qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Also in their group is Ivory Coast and Zambia, neither of who have managed to advance beyond the group stages in the past.

Hosts Egypt are the top seeds in Group A and they have a part of debutants at the championships in their pool in Cameroon and Ghana. Mali are the fourth team.

Nigeria are the only one of the eight-team field to have lifted the trophy before, which they have managed in 2015, while South Africa and Egypt are the only other sides to have appeared in the knockout rounds.

That being said, this will only be the third time an official finals tournament has been played in this age-group. Gabon lifted the inaugural title in 2011.

Only the top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals and have two bites at an Olympics place in the Last 4 fixtures and the third-place play-off.

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