Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Tokyo Olympics: Spain frustrated in goalless draw, Mexico stun France

Tokyo Olympics 2

TOKYO, July 22: Spain’s Olympic men’s soccer campaign got off to a rocky start after they lost two players to injury in a goalless draw with Egypt, while Mexico stunned France 4-1 as the group stage kicked off on Thursday.

The Spaniards, the last European men’s team to claim gold in 1992, arrived in Japan with a number of players from the senior team who reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals this month.
But despite the wealth of options on the pitch, Spain failed to take their opportunities in front of goal against a dogged Egyptian defence in the Group C match at the Sapporo Dome.
Dani Ceballos hit the post on the half-hour mark before the Real Madrid playmaker joined full back Oscar Mingueza on the sidelines due to injuries at the end of first half.
Ceballos hobbled off following a heavy tackle from Egypt forward Taher Mohamed, while Barcelona’s Mingueza pulled up with what appeared to be a thigh injury.
Unlike the women’s tournament featuring all the senior players, the men’s teams are usually restricted to Under-23 sides, with three over-age players allowed per team.
With the Games pushed back by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the age limit was tweaked to Under-24.
Having won the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, Mexico justified their dark horse status with a convincing win over France in Group A, courtesy of second-half goals from Alexis Vega, Sebastian Cordova, Uriel Antuna and Erick Aguirre.
In Group B, Burnley striker Chris Wood fired a late goal to help New Zealand beat South Korea 1-0 in Kashima – earning the Pacific island nation their first win in Olympic men’s soccer.
Elsewhere, South Africa’s opening match against hosts Japan at the Tokyo Stadium will kick off as planned later on Thursday, following concerns it could be called off because of COVID-19 infections.

South Africa, depleted by coronavirus infections before they left for the Games, were dealt with further setbacks at the weekend after two players and a video analyst tested positive in Tokyo. (Agencies)