Olympic football: from Lionel Messi to Pedri, to Nando Pijnaker

Lainez trumps Mexico

Diego Lainez is one of Mexico’s assets. He is the only player of the selection who does not play for a Mexican club. His name will sound familiar to many Ajax players.

The winger chose Spanish Real Betis over Ajax in January 2019. With Mexico, he hopes to match the success of 2012, a high point in the country’s football history. Then Mexico became Olympic champion for the first time.

Ivory Coast hope of Africa

Under the leadership of national coach Jo Bonfrère, Nigeria became Olympic champion in 1996 with, among others, Jay Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu in the ranks. Four years later, Cameroon repeated the African trick by taking the gold in Sydney with Samuel Eto’o, among others.

In Japan, Egypt, Ivory Coast and South Africa must uphold African honour. With Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo of Manchester United and Franck Kessié of AC Milan as the notable names, Ivory Coast is the strongest of the three on paper.

Egypt hoped to have Mo Salah in Japan, but the attacker did not receive permission from Liverpool.

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