Oceania draw tough groups

Fiji have also been drawn in a tough pool for their Olympic football debut.
The 16th ranked Football Ferns are joined by defending Olympic champions USA, France and Colombia in Group G following the draw for the men’s and women’s football tournaments on Tursday at Estadio Maracana’s auditorium in Brazil.
Readings, will take New Zealand to Olympics for a second time, said it was exciting to have their draw confirmed as they look to complete their preparation for Rio in the next three months.
“It is going to be tough,” said the 40-year-old. “We knew that whoever we drew was going to be tough and this group is exactly that. We are up against the reigning Olympic champions, and then play against Colombia who got some results in last year’s World Cup and then we round it out against France.
“We have played against this level of team quite a lot in the past couple of years. We know that it is going to be a challenge but it is one that we are up for.”
Four years ago at the London Olympics, the Football Ferns lost 2-0 to the eventual gold medalist in the quarter-finals. France was defeated in the semi-finals by Japan and went on to lose the bronze medal match to Canada. Colombia failed to win a match in London.
Readings said they would be trying to win every fixture and amassing as many points as they can so they can progress to the next round and then contend for the medals.
“You want to make sure that you get at least five points to go through. You may go through with four but very unlikely you will proceed with three. So we are going to need to win a game and draw a couple. Our ideal would be to win all games. People would say that Colombia is the team to target on paper but they will be very used to the conditions and a tough team to play as well.”
Readings said that being in Rio, and surrounded by the hype of the global summer showpiece, made it all feel very real. He said all teams will look to get their preparation as optimal as possible in the next few months.
The key would be facing opposition that will be like what they are going to face in the tournament in their remaining four fixtures.
“You talk to the teams we are playing against, and we have played against them a bit, so they are not new to us and we are not new to them. It is interesting to see who your adversaries will be in a few months’ time.”
Readings believed that his girls would not be overawed by the challenge of taking on the USA in their opening match of the tournament on Thursday August 4 (NZ time).
“We are going into that game with nothing to lose really. We believe that we can beat any team in the world. That is what we have proved in the past. We drew against the States, we drew against Japan and won against Brazil, those results show that when we hit our straps we can beat quality teams and that is what we will be aiming to do again. We don’t go into that week with any fear because we don’t have much to lose in terms of what people expect.
“We know that when we put in a good performance we can topple any team.”
Fiji have been drawn in Group C alongside Korea Republic, Mexico and Germany, the latter a side which beat Fiji 8-1 at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.


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