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Paris Olympics Soccer draw: United States men will face France

PARIS (AP) — The United States women’s soccer team will face Germany and Australia at the Paris Olympics when incoming coach Emma Hayes looks to get off to a flying start in the job.

The draw for the men’s and women’s soccer tournaments were held at a ceremony in Saint-Denis on Wednesday.

The record four-time gold-medalist was drawn against fifth-ranked Germany and World Cup semifinalist Australia in Group B. Those teams will be joined by either Morocco or Zambia from the African Football Confederation.

Hayes takes up her role as U.S. head coach in May after finishing the season with Chelsea, where she is challenging for a quadruple of trophies in her final year. She has already won 14 major trophies at Chelsea, including six Women’s Super League titles.

Twila Kilgore is serving as interim coach of the United States until Hayes can join the team. Kilgore recently led the team to the title in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“The bottom line is we’re excited to have a path, to know who we’re playing for the most part, to be able to start working on specific game plans,” Kilgore said following the draw. “But also just to know the logistical path. There’s so much that goes into an Olympics with a short turnaround and congested games.”

The U.S. hasn’t won Olympic gold since 2012 and is coming off a disappointing Women’s World Cup last year when it suffered its earliest exit from the tournament after being knocked out by Sweden on penalties in the round of 16. It had never finished worse than third at previous World Cups.

Hayes has established herself as one of the sport’s leading coaches. She can further add to her record by winning a clean sweep of trophies this season — including the Champions League, which is the one competition she is yet to deliver at Chelsea.

Defending champion Canada was drawn in Group A with host France, Colombia and New Zealand. Before winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Games, Canada won back-to-back bronze medals in London and Brazil.

“We know more than ever that there’s not an easy game in the women’s game, no matter what the ranking is,” Canada coach Bev Priestman said. “We know the other routes we could have gone down. Pleased, excited, but taking nothing for granted.”

World Cup winner Spain is in Group C with Japan and Brazil. Nigeria or South Africa will join that group as another CAF qualifier.

The U.S. men’s team will face France at the Paris Games after being drawn in the same group as the host nation for the men’s tournament.

The U.S. is competing at the Games for the first time since Beijing in 2008 and faces a potentially daunting task after being drawn alongside France, coached by soccer great Thierry Henry, in Group A.

Also in the group are New Zealand and the winner of a playoff between teams from the Asian and the African confederations.

World champion Argentina was drawn in Group B with Morocco, Ukraine and a qualifier to be confirmed from the AFC.

Spain, runner-up in Tokyo, is in Group C along with Egypt, Dominican Republic and another qualifier from the AFC, which is yet to be confirmed.

Group D features Paraguay, Mali and Israel as well as a final qualifier from the AFC.

Men’s Olympic soccer is national Under-23 teams with three roster spots available for players over the age limit.

The soccer tournament will begin two days before the opening ceremony of the Games on July 24, with the women’s final concluding the event on Aug. 10.

It is the first time the women’s final will conclude the soccer tournament.

The soccer tournament will be staged across several venues in France including Paris, Nantes, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice, Saint-Étienne and Lyon.


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