Men’s Olympic Football Tournament
- Men’s Olympic Football Tournament kicks off in precisely six months
- We speak to Sylvain Ripoll, coach of France’s Espoirs (U-21) group
- “I’m part of a generation that dreamed of going to the Olympics”
This Friday 22 January marks six months to the day earlier than the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament kicks off in Tokyo. The match will see France again on the Olympic stage 25 years after reaching the quarter-finals on the Atlanta Games in 1996.
So what has prompted such a protracted absence from the Olympics? “I can’t give you an exact answer, since I wasn’t there,” says Sylvain Ripoll, coach of the France Espoirs (U-21) group since 2017. “Qualification for such a prestigious competition is always on a national federation’s wish-list, but for some reason we’ve been unsuccessful in recent times. In any case, we’re delighted to be back with the French team in a major tournament like the Olympics,” mentioned the 49-12 months-previous strategist.
“I’m part of a generation that dreamed of the Olympics – just talking about it always makes our eyes light up,” says the person who was not but 13 when Les Bleus received gold at Los Angeles 1984. “And I think it’s the same with my players,” he provides. “It generates so many memories and great moments that just being part of it is bound to be an honour.”
For now, although, it’s nonetheless too early to be specializing in Tokyo, with tournaments looming earlier than then each for the U-21s and senior group. “We have the EURO (11 June-11 July) taking place shortly before the Olympic Tournament (22 July-7 August), so one event will influence the other. Before that, there’s the European U-21 Championship, which we’ve qualified for, starting in March in Hungary and ending in June. So, the best thing we can do is to deal with those in the order they come.”
There is not any level then in Ripoll trying too far forward or considering which three gamers over the age of 23 he would possibly embody in his squad for Japan, as permitted beneath the principles of males’s match. “Logically, the priority will always be the France senior team,” says the Rennes native, who was nonetheless amenable to remarks final 12 months by Kylian Mbappe, who expressed his want to participate within the Tokyo Olympics. “We can only rejoice that we have a player in France of the calibre of Mbappe who thinks this way.”
An insatiable expertise scout, Ripoll rigorously displays a great 60 gamers, together with 20 who play overseas. He works intently with France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps, who’s at all times on the lookout for new blood to energise his squad. “Didier and I talk a lot about the Espoirs’ potential to establish themselves into the senior team. You need to be performing regularly at the highest level for some time to break into the senior side, whereas with the Espoirs, that process can happen much more quickly,” he explains.
“Didier and his staff keep a very close eye on the Espoirs and watch a lot of their matches. We talk a lot about the players’ mentality, commitment and potential,” provides Ripoll, who takes immense pleasure in seeing one in every of his younger gamers referred to as up. He additionally often talks with the selectors of the youthful age-class groups to attempt to progress probably the most promising skills by means of the ranks.
If we add to the combo the exemption that enables the inclusion of the 1997 technology that was eligible for the postponed Olympics final summer time, then there will probably be a very giant group to select from when deciding on the ultimate squad for Tokyo.
For all that, Ripoll already has grounds to be glad along with his present crop. “This is the second generation I’ve been in charge of since I arrived four years ago. Apart from being gifted, which has been the case for many years in France, given our enormous reservoir of talent, I find them to be very dependable and committed. For now, I feel my players are very focused on their goals, and I hope that remains the case,” says the coach, whose intention is to not assemble solely a squad of huge names for Tokyo.
“There are a lot of criteria that come into play when you put together a squad for a tournament like this. There are performances, of course, but the priority is to have the best possible squad, which doesn’t always mean you only take the best players. We have to assess how squad members complement each other and perform together.”