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Tokyo Olympics is expected to be a stage for star footballers

Tokyo Olympics is expected to be a stage for star footballers

Posted February. 05, 2020 07:55,   

Updated February. 05, 2020 07:55


“My dream for this year is to win the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA European Football Championship, and also win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics,” said French star footballer Kylian Mbappé. After leading France to victory at the 2018 World Cup Russia, Mbappé now aims to give the French national under-23 football team the gold medal at the upcoming Olympics. The Paris Saint-Germain star, whose transfer fee is expected to exceed 300 billion won, is showing stellar performance this season, scoring 22 goals in 25 games including 14 goals in Ligue 1. In an interview with France Football magazine, Mbappé said he wants to play in the Olympics at least once in his career and he will discuss with his team about his participation. Footballers need their clubs’ consent to participate in the Olympics since the release of players for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament is not mandatory for all clubs.

With the Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament completed in Asia, Europe, and Africa, 12 countries, including France and South Korea have secured spots at the Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics is expected to be a stage for star footballers as countries are gearing up to select the best members, including three wildcards for their team.

Meanwhile, Egypt is considering choosing Mohamed Salah, who led Liverpool to victory at the UEFA Champions League last season, for their national team as a wildcard. “Salah will be put on the top of our pre-list squad. But Liverpool needs to prepare for the new season during the Olympic season. It depends on Salah whether he will play in the Olympics or not,” said Egypt’s under-23 coach Shawky Gharib. Salah came to prominence by scoring three goals at the 2012 London Olympics at the age of 20. He has developed into a world-class striker, playing for prestigious European clubs, including Chelsea, AS Rome, and Liverpool.

Spain reportedly chose midfielder Andres Iniesta, 36, as one of their wildcard candidates. Iniesta, who helped FC Barcelona win the UEFA Champions League four times, has played for Vissel Kobe of J League since 2018. This will give him an edge since he does not need time to adapt to the environment. Germany is considering selecting Thomas Muller, who has made 100 appearances for the German national team, as their wildcard.

Yun-Cheol Jeong trigger@donga.com