U23 AFCON: All you need to know as Ghana play Cameroon today to begin Olympic Games quest
No show since 2004. Starting Friday, Ghana will attempt to end to their long-absence at the Olympic Games men’s football competition when they take on seven other countries at the Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The U23 AFCON is the final leg of qualifiers to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The top three finishers at the tournament will represent Africa in Japan.
The Black Meteors were a force to reckon with when it came to football at the Olympic Games. Consistently, qualifying and achieving an unprecedented feat in Barcelona, 1992. Ghana became the first African nation to win a medal, bronze, in men’s football. Although that record has been bettered by West African rivals Nigeria [gold in 1996] and Cameroon [gold in 2000].
Since the Athens Games in 2004, it’s been series of heartbreaks for Ghanaians but this crop of Black Meteors players have the opportunity to write their own history. Led by former Ghanaian international Ibrahim Tanko, the team seems confident of earning one of qualification three slots.
How did Ghana reach this stage?
The journey began in December 2018 where the Black Meteors trounced Togo 5-2 on aggregate in the first qualifying round.
They also made light work of Gabon in the second qualifying round winning 4-0 on aggregate.
In the third qualifying round, Black Meteors faced off with Algeria. The first leg in Accra ended 1-1 with Meteors needing a late penalty to rescue a draw.
However, it was a different outcome in Algiers as an impressive performance saw Black Meteors win 1-0 to seal their qualification to U23 AFCON.
Who are in Ghana’s group?
Black Meteors find themselves in a tough group A alongside host nation Egypt, Cameroon, and Mali.
They begin their campaign against Cameroon (today) Friday, followed by Egypt and Mali on November 11 and 14 respectively.
Who are Ghana’s rivals in other groups?
Since only eight teams are competing, the tournament has two groups A and B.
Ghana are in A and should they progress out of the group are likely to meet 2016 bronze medalist and reigning African champions Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Ivory Coast.
How can Ghana earn a qualification slot?
First of all, Ghana must qualify from their group. The qualification will secure a place in the last four.
Should they win in the semi-final and qualify for the final, Black Meteors will book a place at the Olympic Games.
If in the case of a loss in the semis, they must win the third-place playoff to qualify for the games.