Nigeria has been handed a tough draw as it bids to medal for a third time at the Under-23 Olympic soccer tournament in Brazil next year.
The West Africans will meet Egypt – an 11-time Olympic participant – Mali and Nigeria in Group “B” of the Africa qualifying competition in Senegal from November 28 to December 12.
Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana are the only African teams to medal in soccer at the Olympics.
The Nigerians captured gold and silver in 1996 and 2008 respectively, Cameroon won the 2000 tournament in Sydney and Ghana picked up a bronze in the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Hosts Senegal will face Zambia, South Africa and Tunisia in the other group.
The top three teams will advance to next year’s summer Olympics.
This is just the second edition of the Africa Under-23 tournament that was launched four years ago in Morocco with Gabon defeating the host country 2-1 in the final. Egypt shut out Senegal 2-0 for third place.
Senegal defeated Oman in a playoff to earn a spot at the last Olympics. There is, however, no playoff spot available this time.
Egypt and Senegal are the only sides in the last eight who competed in the last Olympics in London in 2012.
And, a total of 26 Under-14 and -17 Canadian female players are in camp in British Columbia.
The camp brings together a mixture of talent, half of whom have had the opportunity to experience three youth International Soccer Federation (FIFA) World Cups, and some new recruits who have been identified since the previous EXCEL development camp in April.
“We are really excited to work with this talented group again following a busy summer as hosts to both the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Pan American Games,” said national women’s EXCEL youth director, Bev Priestman. “We have no doubt the group has been inspired by such world class, global events here on Canadian soil. The EXCEL staff is really motivated to push these girls to the next level of development on their Women’s National Team journey and we would love to see more young talented players move up the system with their hard work. Our job is to lay the foundations.”