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The draws for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic soccer tournaments took place Wednesday, with host nation Japan handed challenging draws in both the men’s and women’s tournaments, reports Dan Orlowitz.

The men’s U-24 team was placed in Group A with France, Mexico and South Africa, while former world champion Nadeshiko Japan was grouped with Canada, Great Britain and Chile.

The men’s team has every right to be feeling confident after its matches earlier this month, writes Orlowitz. These included a win over an archrival, a double-digit thrashing of a World Cup qualifying opponent and two strong outings against a potential Tokyo 2020 medal contender.

Olympic Football Tournaments Tokyo 2020 | OFFICIAL DRAW | FIFA TV
Olympic Football Tournaments Tokyo 2020 | OFFICIAL DRAW | FIFA TV

As for the women’s team, two friendlies on April 8 and 11 — against 47th-ranked Paraguay and 59th-ranked Panama, respectively — allowed Japan’s players to show what they are capable of.

But after two 7-0 victories against minnows, it’s still not clear whether Nadeshiko Japan is ready to take on the likes of the U.S. or Germany in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, writes Orlowitz.

Japan won the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany just months after the 3/11 disasters, and the team will play its final Olympic group-stage match at Miyagi Stadium near tsunami-hit Sendai, in a move aimed at showcasing the region’s recovery. Ten years on, could Tohoku again inspire Nadeshiko Japan to victory?

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