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Moriba spot-kick fires Guinea to Paris 2024 Olympics as Africa picks fourth slot

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Guinea booked their place at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Paris after Ilaix Moriba’s penalty sealed a 1-0 play-off victory over Indonesia on Thursday.

With the qualification via play-off, Africa will have four teams at the men’s football event of the Olympic Games.

Guinea now joins Morocco, Egypt and Mali.

The Guinean midfielder’s first-half strike from 12 yards proved the difference at Clairefontaine as the Syli Nationale secured qualification for just their second Olympic Games.

With the 16-team line-up for this summer’s event now complete, Guinea have been drawn in a daunting Group A alongside hosts France, USA and New Zealand.

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The decisive moment came on the half-hour mark when Algassime Bah was brought down in the box by Indonesia’s Witan Sulaeman after a rapid Guinea counter-attack.

Moriba made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick, lashing the ball beyond the reach of the Indonesian goalkeeper to put the African side ahead.

Guinea had opportunities to extend their lead, with Mohamed Soumah’s close-range effort hacked off the line shortly after the restart.

But Indonesia rallied and went agonisingly close to an equaliser on the hour, substitute Alfeandra Dewangga’s glancing header drifting just wide.

Dewangga was soon at the centre of the action again, conceding a penalty after fouling Bah in the box – an award that prompted angry protests from the Indonesian bench and saw coach Shin Tae-yong dismissed.

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After a lengthy delay, Bah took responsibility from 12 yards himself but could only strike the upright as Guinea missed the chance to put the result beyond doubt.

Indonesia pushed for a late leveller but Guinea’s defence stood firm to seal their historic place at Paris 2024 – 56 years after their Olympic debut in 1968.

The hard work starts now for the West Africans as they prepare to take on the might of France, USA and New Zealand in a daunting group stage

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Olympics

Djokovic confirmed for Paris Olympics

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French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 3, 2024 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his fourth round match against Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Novak Djokovic will compete at this year’s Olympic Games in Paris, the Olympic Committee of Serbia has announced.

The 24-times Grand Slam winner will be attending his fifth Olympics since his first in 2008 when he won a bronze medal.

The 37-year-old had knee surgery last month after he was forced to pull out of the French Open with an injury sustained in a fourth-round win that cast doubt over his chances of playing at Wimbledon and at the Paris Games.

World number three Djokovic will look to end his title drought in 2024 after winning three out of the four Grand Slams last year as he chases an elusive Olympic gold medal at the Paris Games in which Spain’s Rafa Nadal will also compete.

Dusan Lajovic, ranked 56th, will also play for Serbia in the July 27-Aug. 4 Olympic tournament at Roland Garros.

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-Reuters

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Mbappe rules out playing at Paris Games after Real Madrid move

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Kylian Mbappe confirmed on Sunday he will not play for France’s Olympic team at the Paris Games as his new club Real Madrid are against the idea.

The 25-year-old said in March that he was keen on playing at his home Games but since the Olympic soccer tournament is not on FIFA’s calendar clubs are not obliged to release their players.

Mbappe was not included in a 25-man preliminary squad for the Olympics earlier this month, though head coach Thierry Henry left the door open.

“My club’s position was very clear, so from that moment on, I think I (knew) I won’t be taking part in the Games,” Mbappe told reporters ahead of Monday’s Group D match against Austria at Euro 2024.

“That’s just the way it is, and I understand that too. I’m joining a new team in September, so it’s not the best way to start an adventure.

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“I’m going to wish this French team all the best. I’m going to watch every game. I hope they’ll win the gold medal.”

The men’s Olympic football competition begins on July 24, 10 days after the European Championships final, and ends on Aug. 9.

-Reuters

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Messi says he won’t play for Argentina at Paris Games

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Lionel Messi said he will not be part of Argentina’s squad for the Paris Olympics as he is no longer at an age where he can play in every tournament.

The 36-year-old Inter Miami forward is currently preparing for Argentina’s Copa America title defence, which runs from June 20 to July 14 in the United States.

In February, under-23 manager Javier Mascherano said Messi, who won gold with Argentina at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, had an invitation to join the squad for Paris.

“I talked to Mascherano and the truth is we both understood the situation,” Messi told ESPN.

“It’s hard (to think about the Olympics right now) because we’re in Copa America. It would be two, three straight months of not being with the club, and more than anything I’m not at an age to be in everything.

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“I have to choose carefully, and it would be too much to play two straight tournaments. I’ve been very lucky to play in the Olympics, of winning it together with (Mascherano).

“It was a wonderful experience on a football level. Olympics, U20, memories I’ll never forget.”

The men’s football tournament at the Olympics takes place in July and August. Teams are allowed three overage players in their squads.

-Reuters

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