Senegal drawn against Britain in Olympic football

Former Brazil star Ronaldo, who won a bronze in 1996, was part of the Olympic football draw ceremony at Wembley

Story highlights

  • Senegal will play Britain on the opening day of the Olympic men's football tournament
  • Senegal qualified for the Olympics for the first time with a win over Oman in a playoff
  • Gold medal favorites Brazil are in Group C with Egypt, Belarus and New Zealand
  • Defending women's champions United States will play France, Colombia and North Korea

Senegal's reward for qualifying for their first Olympic men's football competition is an opening match against hosts Britain, who could include former England captain David Beckham in their team.

Senegal beat Oman in a playoff in Coventry on Monday to claim the last place in the 16-team draw for the Olympic competition, which begins July 26.

In the draw completed Tuesday at Wembley, Senegal and Great Britain were drawn in Group A alongside Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates.

Brazil, who are seeking their first men's football gold, were put in Group C with Egypt, Belarus and New Zealand. Defending champions Argentina failed to qualify.

In the women's competition, Brazil and Britain were drawn together. Defending champions United States are in Group G with France, Colombia and North Korea.

The games will take place at stadiums across Britain, with the finals to be held at Wembley.

Britain will be competing in an Olympic football tournament for the first time since 1960. The national associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland still oppose the plan because they fear it will threaten their independence.

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"They're in a very tough group," world football expert James Montague told CNN World Sport. "All of these teams look at the Olympic tournament in a very different way to the way the British do.

"There's been a lot of controversy over the British team, a lot of opposition to it. There isn't enough unity for the British team to thrive. A team like the UAE have had 10 qualifying games already and they've actually built a team. The Great Britain team only have a long list of 80 players -- they haven't played any games at all."

The 36-year-old Beckham has made no secret of his ambition to play a part in the British squad as one of the three permitted overage players in what is otherwise an Under-23 tournament.

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British coach Stuart Pearce said he will only select the midfielder if his form is good enough -- and not as recognition of Beckham's ambassadorial role.

Pearce plans to visit the United States to watch Beckham play for LA Galaxy in the MLS.

"He's been a great ambassador but that's no guarantee he'll get in the squad," Pearce said. "I'm picking on form and merit alone."

Britain will kick off the tournament against Senegal at Old Trafford on July 26 before playing the UAE at Wembley three days later and Uruguay in Cardiff on 1 August.

Brazil are expected to include 20-year-old Santos star Neymar in their squad. They will play in Cardiff, Manchester and Newcastle.

The Brazilian women's team could include five-time world player of their year Marta as they look to win gold for the first time, having lost the final to the U.S. in 2004 and 2008.

"The big game I'm looking forward to is the holders United States against North Korea," Montague said. "North Korea have a fantastic women's side who have done very well in previous World Cups and Olympics. That's going to be the crunch game.

"Great Britain against Brazil will also be fantastic -- especially if the Brazilians take Marta along as well."

DRAWS

Men's:
Group A: Great Britain, Senegal, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay
Group B: Mexico, South Korea, Gabon, Switzerland
Group C: Brazil, Egypt, Belarus, New Zealand
Group D: Spain, Japan, Honduras, Morocco
(Top two teams from each group advance to quarterfinals)

Women's:
Group E: Great Britain, New Zealand, Cameroon, Brazil
Group F: Japan, Canada, Sweden, South Africa
Group G: USA, France, Colombia, North Korea
(Top two teams from each group and the two best third-placed teams advance to quarterfinals)