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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Argentina aim for gold
Argentine captain Nicolas Burdisso
Argentine captain Nicolas Burdisso celebrates winning qualification
South America has real hopes of winning a first football gold since the sport was re-introduced to the Games in 1936.

Argentina, under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa, travel to Athens as favourites for the men's Olympic title.

However, Paraguay, the continent's other representative, will be confident of challenging for honours after holding off Brazil in qualifying.

The 16-team tournament is split into four groups of four before a knockout stage from the quarter-finals on.

Argentina, silver medallists in Atlanta, will have to hit the peak of their game from the first whistle having been drawn in Group C with Tunisia, Australia and Serbia and Montenegro.

Bielsa has a host of young stars he called on in qualifying when he relied on non-European-based players such as Boca Juniors trio Nicolas Burdisso, Luciano Figueroa and Carlos Tevez.

The coach will be hoping Juventus-bound Burdisso is freed from the Serie A giants to skipper the side.

And with the opportunity to add three players over the age limit of 23 into the squad Bielsa will be confident he can put the pain of failure at the 2002 World Cup behind him with success in Athens.

It's a good draw - we've avoided the big guns in Groups B and C
Stratos Apostolakis,
Greece manager
Paraguay will have to come through arguably the hardest pool - Group B - and will hope young stars Diego Barreto, Edgar Barreto, Fredy Bareiro and Diego Figueredo are firing on all cyclinders.

They have been paired with Italy, Japan and Ghana, who will be intent on continuing sub-Saharan Africa's recent dominance after Nigeria's 1996 victory and Cameroon's gold in Sydney.

Mali edged out Cameroon in qualifying and have been rewarded with a berth in arguably the easiest group alongside Greece, South Korea and Mexico.

The final group consists of Portugal, Morocco, Costa Rica and Iraq.

The football tournament starts on 11 August, two days before the opening ceremony.


Men's Olympic football draw

Group A
Greece
South Korea
Mali
Mexico

Group B
Paraguay
Japan
Ghana
Italy

Group C
Argentina
Serbia-Montenegro
Tunisia
Australia

Group D
Costa Rica
Morocco
Iraq
Portugal





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