Zurich, April 21 (IANS) The Megan Rapinoe-led United States football team will take on their 2016 Rio nemesis Sweden, with neighbours Australia and New Zealand joining them in Group G of the women’s Olympic football tournament. The draw was done in Zurich on Wednesday.
The United States team, which hasn’t lost a match since January 2019, will be looking to dispel the demons of five years ago when they take on the Swedes in the group opener this summer in Tokyo.
While the odds are on the USA navigating their way through a challenging group that also includes Oceania neighbours Australia and New Zealand, it won’t be easy sailing.
Sweden, who finished third at the World Cup in 2019 and are led by a new generation of footballers including Real Madrid’s Sofia Jakobson and Kosovare Asslani, were the last team to stop the US women’s national team from winning, when they ground out a 1-1 draw in April 2021.
Australia’s Matildas will also pose strong opposition in what looks to be the tournament’s group of death. The team, captained by Chelsea’s Sam Kerr, will be hoping to improve upon their Rio 2016 performance, when they lost on penalties against Brazil in the quarter-finals.
Not many know the USA setup better than Australia’s coach Tony Gustavsson, who was the USA’s assistant coach during the last Olympics.
This isn’t the first time the USA, Sweden and Australia have been drawn together in a major tournament. They were part of the same group at the 2015 World Cup, with all three teams eventually advancing to the knockout stage.
Hosts Japan were drawn in Group E, which also includes Great Britain, Canada and Chile.
It will be Chile’s first introduction to Olympic football, having played in their first World Cup in 2019.
Great Britain, led by Hege Riise, are due to participate in their first Olympics since London 2012, with all four constituent football associations — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — available for selection.
In a tournament that has drawn up no easy groups, China will take on two-time silver medallists Brazil in Group F, as well as two countries making their debuts at the Games: Netherlands and Zambia.