Spain’s men’s Olympic campaign began on a rough start, losing two players to a goalless draw against Egypt as Mexico beat France 4-1 at the start of the group stage on Thursday. The Spaniards, the last European men’s team to win gold in 1992, arrived in Japan this month along with several senior team players reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020. But, despite a wealth of options on the field, Spain failed to take advantage of their opportunities in front of the gate against an obstacle in Egypt’s defense in a Group C match of the Sapporo Cup.
Dani Ceballos hit the bar in the middle of the hour, before the Real Madrid player was joined by defender Oscar Mingueza due to injuries at the end of the first half. Ceballos returned after a heavy attack from Egyptian striker Tahir Mohamed, while Barcelona’s Mingueza continued with a thigh injury and Spain’s men played a goalless draw.
Unlike women’s tournaments with all senior players, men’s teams are usually limited to teams under the age of 23, with three players over age allowed per team. With the Games being pushed back by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the age limit has been changed to Under-24.
After winning the CONCACAF qualifiers, Mexico justified their status as a dark horse in Group A with a convincing victory over France, thanks to goals from Alexis Vega, Sebastian Cordova, Uriel Antuna and Eric Aguirre in the second half. France without many of their big stars after participating in Euro 2020 has found a target through Andre-Pierre Gignac, but will now have to rise after a humiliating defeat in Group A’s opening game.
In Group B, Burnley striker Chris Wood scored a late goal to help New Zealand beat South Korea 1-0 in Kashima – earning the Pacific island nation its first win in men’s Olympic football. Elsewhere, New Zealand took an early lead in Group B after beating South Korea 1–0, and Ivory Coast beat Saudi Arabia 2–1 in Group D.