Football

Tokyo 2020 Olympic football tournament: Which teams will take last two women's spots?

Four teams are left in the hunt for the last two spots at the Tokyo 2020 women's football tournament in 2021. Find out all about the two qualifying ties still to be played.

By ZK Goh ·

We know 10 of the 12 teams that will play in the Olympic women's football (soccer) tournament this summer at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

They are: Japan, Brazil, New Zealand, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, United States, Zambia, and Australia.

However, two spots are yet to be filled, with final qualifying games scheduled to take place in April 2021.

Four teams – South Korea, China, Cameroon, and Chile – can still book their places in Japan.

Which of the four will we see in Tokyo? Here are some things you should know about the teams and the remaining Olympic qualifiers.

Top women's football goals

Top women's football goals from Rio 2016.

Women's football Olympic Qualifier 1: Asian playoff

South Korea are set to take on China in the first of the remaining qualifiers.

Originally scheduled for March last year before being postponed by the coronavirus outbreak, the tie pits two of Asia's giants against each other, with the teams ranked fourth and third respectively among Asian countries in the FIFA world rankings.

How did they get here?

Both teams received byes to the third group stage of Asian qualifying, and both South Korea and China were to serve as hosts for the two groups.

South Korea were drawn with Vietnam, Myanmar, and North Korea, although their northern neighbours ultimately withdrew from the tournament before the round began.

The world number 18 South Koreans easily won their group, beating Myanmar 7-0 before defeating Vietnam 3-0.

China, meanwhile, were unable to host their qualifying group in the end. The competition was originally due to take place in Wuhan before it was moved, first to Nanjing and later to Sydney, Australia, due to the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The team were forced into a hotel quarantine in Brisbane, but acquitted themselves admirably in the games against Thailand, Chinese Taipei, and Australia.

They saw off Thailand 6-1 and Chinese Taipei 5-0, before drawing 1-1 with Australia after being pegged back by a late stoppage-time equaliser that saw them finish second on goal difference.

Who are the key players?

South Korea can count on stars like the England-based trio of captain and record cap holder Cho So-hyun (Tottenham), record goalscorer Ji So-yun (Chelsea), and Lee Geum-min (Brighton).

The world number 15th-ranked Chinese rely entirely on a domestic-based squad playing for teams in Beijing, Changchun, Jiangsu, Shandong, Shanghai, Wuhan, and Zhejiang. Tang Jiali was the team's top scorer in the group stage with four goals; Wang Shanshan and Li Ying each netted three.

When and where do the games take place?

The tie has been postponed four times, and the two legs are currently expected to take place in April 2021.

The first leg is scheduled to take place on 8 April at the Jeju World Cup Stadium, a 2002 FIFA World Cup host stadium, in Seogwipo on the southern Korean island of Jeju.

Five days later, on 13 April, the return match is set for the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre in Jiangsu.

The winner of the tie across both legs, playing extra time and penalties if necessary, will qualify for the Olympics as one of three Asian teams alongside hosts Japan and Australia.

South Korea have never qualified for an Olympics; China have played at five of the six women's Olympic football tournaments, winning silver in the inaugural edition at Atlanta 1996.

Women's football Olympic Qualifier 2: African-South American playoff

The second remaining qualifier is set to be an inter-continental one, with Cameroon taking on Chile.

It is the first time since 2008 that there has been an inter-continental playoff as part of qualification; that year, Brazil defeated Ghana to secure their spot in Beijing.

Originally meant to be played last April, the two-legged tie was first postponed to this month, but it has now been put back by an additional two months.

How did they get here?

Chile have had to wait three years for this, with the 2018 Copa América Feminina being designated as the qualifying tournament for South American teams.

In that tournament, which they hosted, they finished second to Brazil in the final group stage (there was no knockout phase).

Since then, they have gone on to play in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, where they crashed out at the group stage on goal difference.

Cameroon, on the other hand, only found out their fate in March 2020 at the African qualifiers, which was held as a straight knockout tournament.

After scraping past Ethiopia on the away goals rule, they saw off DR Congo and Côte d'Ivoire before facing Zambia in the final.

However, a 4–4 draw on aggregate saw Zambia win the tie and qualify directly on away goals, which landed the Indomitable Lionesses in the play-off.

Who are the players to watch?

Chile, ranked 38th in the world, are perhaps surprisingly only fourth among South American teams.

Their best player is without a doubt goalkeeper and captain Christian Endler, who plays in the French league for Paris Saint-Germain. Endler is considered one of the world's best between the sticks, and will hope to lead her team to the Olympics.

The 29-year-old is also the most experienced campaigner in the squad, with her 77 caps the most won by a Chilean female player.

World number 51 side Cameroon are second among African teams, behind only Nigeria.

Their squad relies on a roughly 50-50 mix of domestic-based players and players who ply their trade abroad, including in the U.S. NWSL and the top divisions of Norway, France, Spain, Israel, Russia, and Belarus.

Estelle Johnson, who plays for Sky Blue FC in the NWSL, and France-based Claudine Meffometou are among the key defenders for the side; they will rely on firepower up front from Atlético Madrid forward Ajara Nchout Njoya and team captain Gabrielle Onguéné of CSKA Moscow.

When and where do the games take place?

Exact dates for the two matches have yet to be confirmed by FIFA, although they are expected to take place in April 2021 during the international window.

The first leg will take place in Cameroon, with the second leg in Chile. The venues for the two matches have also not been confirmed.

Should they qualify, it will be Chile's first Olympic appearance; Cameroon played at London 2012 but lost all three of their group stage matches.