The official squads lists for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament were announced today. Among the 288 players included are some of planet football’s top talents. The selection criteria for the men’s competition state that participants have to be born in 1997 or later, with the exception of three over-age players. FIFA.com has picked out some of the more experienced players who could make the difference for their countries in the hunt for the medals at Tokyo 2020. Brazil will feature Dani Alves, who at 38 and with 118 caps and two FIFA World Cup™ participations to his name, is taking part in his first Olympics. Coach Andre Jardine said in a recent interview with FIFA.com that Alves is “an example for the next generation to follow”. They will also be able to count on the experience of Santos (31) in goal as well as Sevilla defender Diego Carlos (28).
Defending champions Brazil are in Group D, where they will face a Germany side who were beaten finalists at Rio 2016. To strengthen his squad, Stefan Kuntz has called on two current internationals in the form of midfielder Nadiem Amiri (24, Bayer Leverkusen) and Maximilian Arnold (27, Wolfsburg). The German coach has also brought in Max Kruse (33), the Union Berlin forward who is coming off an excellent season, although his 14th and most recent cap for his country came back in 2015. The French are banking on the flair and experience of Florian Thauvin (28), who won the World Cup in 2018 and who has just signed with Tigres. There, he will be playing alongside Andre-Pierre Gignac (35), who was a stand-out at the last FIFA Club World Cup™.
France’s first match will be against Mexico, who have brought in veteran keeper Guillermo Ochoa (35), who has played at the last four World Cups. Alongside him will be his Club America team-mate Henry Martin (28), while in defensive midfield, Luis Romo (26) was on sparkling form last season with Cruz Azul. Spain have put their faith in the sweet left foot of Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio (25) and the midfield energy of Dani Ceballos (24), two players who were not part of Luis Enrique’s UEFA EURO squad. One who was is Unai Simon, who is joining up with the Spanish Olympic team after bowing out on penalties in the semi-finals against Italy.
Lucas Alario had been slated to feature in the Argentina squad, but the Bayer Leverkusen forward has had to pull out with injury. Coach Fernando Batista has instead decided to stick with his tried and trusted group, with the only addition being goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma, in a bid to “get nearer to the podium” or maybe even further, as he recently told FIFA.com. Elsewhere, the hosts have chosen to bolster their defense with veteran Maya Yoshida (32), who is still captain of the Samurai Blue and has no fewer than 107 caps to his name. The two other call-ups, Hiroki Sakai (31) and Wataru Endo (28) are also regulars in Japan’s first team and played at the last World Cup. Mohamed El-Shenawy (32) won the most recent CAF Champions League with Al Ahly and is a fixture for Egypt, and he will be available in goal as part of his country’s Olympic squad. Ahmed Hegazy (30), who was alongside El-Shenawy at Russia 2018, will be bringing his imposing physique (1.94m) and experience of European football to the Egyptian defense.
Korea Republic have drafted in Bordeaux’s Hwang Uijo, a regular for the Taegeuk Warriors, for whom he scored a brace in early June in qualifying for Qatar 2022. Côte d’Ivoire have called up three senior team regulars as they look to bring back some silverware from Asia: Manchester United’s Eric Bailly (27), AC Milan’s Franck Kessie (24) and former Saint-Etienne star Max Gradel (33).
Finally, New Zealand are strengthening their attack with consistent English Premier League goal scorer Chris Wood (29). The towering Burnley forward will bring his experience of major international tournaments to the squad, notably taking part in the 2010 World Cup, London 2012 Olympic Tournament and two Confederations Cups (2009 and 2017).