Thierry Henry’s French team emerges as strong contenders for advancement after securing a favorable group draw in men’s football at the 2024 Olympic Games on Wednesday, with the hopes of including Kylian Mbappe awaiting confirmation. “Nothing comes easy,” remarked Henry post-draw, acknowledging the challenges ahead. However, Les Bleus, already touted as gold medal favorites on home soil, evaded potential obstacles by not drawing Morocco and Egypt. Positioned in Group A alongside New Zealand, USA, and the winners of the AFC-CAF play-off, France aims to replicate their 1984 Olympic gold triumph.

“Winning a home tournament is never a simple task. While Brazil and Spain achieved it (in 2016 and 1992, respectively), such feats are rare,” remarked Henry. “Nevertheless, we will strive to make it a reality, though it promises to be a demanding journey.”

Mbappe’s desire to represent France at the Olympics is evident, albeit his participation remains uncertain due to potential scheduling conflicts after Euro 2024. FIFA’s policy does not compel clubs to release players for the Olympics, complicating Mbappe’s situation further. While the inclusion of Mbappe in the squad appears improbable, Antoine Griezmann, despite recent injury concerns, may still feature.

With promising under-23 talents at his disposal such as Eduardo Camavinga, Bradley Barcola, and Warren Zaire-Emery, Henry remains optimistic about topping the group.

Securing the top spot in the group stage becomes imperative for France to avoid formidable opponents like Argentina, drawn in Group B alongside Morocco, Ukraine, and the third Asian qualifier. Argentina, led by coach Javier Mascherano, aims to clinch their third Olympic gold, potentially with the participation of Lionel Messi, who won gold in 2008.

Spain, silver medalists in Tokyo, will compete in Group C against Egypt, Dominican Republic, and the second AFC qualifier. Group D comprises Paraguay, Israel, Mali, and the first AFC qualifier.

The men’s football tournament, restricted primarily to players born after January 1, 2001, allows each team to select three players over 23 years old. Commencing on July 24, the tournament will culminate in the final in Paris on August 9, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarter-finals.

The full draw for the men’s football tournament at the 2024 Olympic Games is as follows:

Group A: France, New Zealand, USA, ICP AFC-CAF Group B: Argentina, Morocco, AFC 3, Ukraine Group C: AFC 2, Spain, Egypt, Dominican Republic Group D: AFC 1, Paraguay, Mali, Israel

The AFC U-23 Asian Cup in Qatar from April 15 to May 3 will determine two finalists and a third-placed team qualifying for the Olympics. Additionally, the AFC-CAF play-off will decide the final participant, contested between Guinea and the fourth-placed team from the AFC U-23 Asian Cup.