Bailly and Amad.

Solskjaer explains Ivorian decision

Tuesday 13 July 2021 11:48

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted he could not stand in the way of Eric Bailly and Amad competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The boss appreciates how it is a dream for any young athlete to participate in the Games and not only does he acknowledge it will act as the Ivory Coast pair's pre-season campaign, but he has also challenged them to bring back a medal to show off at Carrington!

Bailly has been selected as an over-aged player for the tournament as a centre-back with great experience, while Amad has already made a splash for his country, scoring his first international goal with a dramatic injury-time free-kick against Burkina Faso recently.

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“I think everyone, when they grow up, watches the Olympics and can see Usain Bolt or Ryan Giggs. I saw him play in the Olympics [for Great Britain in 2012]!” Ole told us. “When your country calls you up, I think I can’t stand in the way of that boyhood dream being fulfilled.

“Of course, Eric is over-age but I think they can see the value of him and that’s why they brought him in.

“Amad is a young, exciting prospect. It’ll be good to see them. It’ll be their pre-season but they’ve got to come back with a medal. We need a nice feel about the place when they come back!”

Amad spoke to us recently about how Bailly helps look after him on international duty, as the defender has been a big influence on his fellow countryman.

“Eric has been like an older brother to me since I arrived in Manchester, but not just Eric, Paul [Pogba] as well,” the 19-year-old said. “In fact, everyone, but I am closer to Eric and Paul because they speak French and help me with what I need to do both on and off the pitch.

“And I go with Eric to the national team games, although I did not know him before I came here. But since I have met him, he is a really calm person, he always gives me advice. I think that someone like him is really important for my development as a player.”

Ivory Coast begin their Olympics campaign against Saudi Arabia on 22 July in Japan. Three days later, they face Brazil before finishing their Group D schedule with a clash with Germany on 28 July.

The top two sides progress to the quarter-finals, with the gold-medal final taking place in Yokohama on 7 August.