Germany, Australia and Japan grab slots at Paris 2024 Olympics

February 29 – Germany claimed Europe’s last ticket to the Olympic women’s football tournament with a 2-0 victory against the Netherlands in the third-place playoff of the Nations League. In Asia, Australia and Japan clinched their spots for Paris. 

On Thursday, Germany, Australia and Japan all confirmed their participation in the 12-team tournament this summer.

The Germans will join hosts France and world champions Spain as European representatives at the Olympic Games after they overcame the Dutch in Herenveen with second-half goals from Klara Buhl and Lea Schueller. The 2016 gold medallists return to the Games after missing out on the 2020 iteration in Tokyo.

Ultimately, the Dutch were not good enough to merit qualification. They had lost 3-0 to Spain in the last four and were found out against by Germany, something Andries Jonker admitted after the full-time whistle.

The Dutch manager had previously cast doubt over the Netherlands’ Olympic ambitions because of the demanding calendar. The Olympic Games would have represented a fifth consecutive summer tournament for the team.

“It’s hard for me to say, because the disappointment is really huge at the moment, but if I think about it quickly, yes,” said Andries Jonker in a flash interview when asked if a summer of rest would do his players well. Star player Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal pulled out of the Germany encounter at the last minute with injury.

“But we all decided that we wanted to go for it. We moved heaven and earth to win that Nations League group and be able to stand here. We got stranded again within sight of the port, just like at the World Cup, in the quarter-final against Spain. If you win a match like that, you will qualify. And if you participate, you have a chance. That’s how it is again. Despite all the problems I hoped we would do better.”

In Asia, Michelle Heyman’s four goals led Australia to a 10-0 victory against Uzbekistan in front of a 54,120-strong local crowd to seal passage to Paris 13-0 on aggregate.

Last summer, the Matildas finished fourth at the Women’s World Cup on home soil in a campaign that mirrored their run at Tokyo 2020 when they failed to claim the bronze medal after a defeat to the United States in the third-place playoff.

“Don’t misinterpret me,” said Australia manager Tony Gustavsson. “I really want a medal for these players, but inspiring a new generation of players and bringing women’s football on the map … that’s success in itself.”

“There’s limited minutes to prepare the core group of players that I know is going to go to the Olympics and they need the games. But maybe I also need to look at a few players to make decisions, so finding that sweet spot on that balance is going to be key.”

Japan defeated North Korea 2-1 following a draw in Saudi Arabia last week. Japan were eliminated in the quarter-finals at the Tokyo Olympic Games and also lost at the same stage at last year’s World Cup. It was the first time in seven years that the North Koreans had traveled to Japan.

Two berths for the tournament remain up for grabs in Africa with the playoffs taking place in April.  The draw for the tournament will be staged on 20 March.

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