The group phase of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012 reaches its conclusion on Wednesday with six quarter-finals places still to be claimed. Brazil and Japan are the two sides to have checked in so far, while Spain and United Arab Emirates are the only teams with nothing left to play for but pride.
Match of the day
Great Britain-Uruguay, Cardiff, 19:45 local time
The host nation lead the way in Group A but can take nothing for granted against a Uruguay side that needs to win to make sure of a place in the last eight. Should they draw, the South Americans will be left waiting on the result of Senegal’s game, while defeat will definitely send them out. For the British, meanwhile, a draw will be enough.
Enjoying something of a golden era, La Celeste are back in the tournament for the first time since 1928, when they claimed their second consecutive gold medal in their second appearance in the competition. Great Britain also have two golds to their name, won in 1908 and 1912, though history will count for little in this high-stakes encounter.
Though the teams currently occupying the top two places in each of the four groups are in pole position, the calculators could well be needed by the end of the day.
To prevent that from happening in Group B, Mexico and Korea Republic both need a point in their final games to advance, as do Belarus when they take on Egypt in Group C, and Honduras in their game against Japan in Group D. Provided that Morocco do not beat Spain by a sufficient number of goals, Los Catrachos can afford to lose and still go through, as they have a superior goal difference to the north Africans. Determined to end on a high note after a calamitous Games, pre-tournament favourites Spain will be doing everything they can to see off the Moroccans.
Player to watch
Luis Suarez (URU)
Still goalless in the competition, Luis Suarez could have opened his account in Uruguay’s narrow opening win over UAE but selflessly chose to pass to team-mate Nicolas Lodeiro instead. Following his side’s disappointing defeat to the powerful Senegalese, the Charrúa skipper will be the focus of much attention in the make-or-break meeting with the host nation.
4 - The number of points Honduras have collected so far, putting them on the brink of a place in the second round of a FIFA competition for the first time in their history. Los Catrachos have gone out in the group phase of every FIFA World Cup™ and Men’s Olympic Football Tournament they have contested, a record they are on the point of setting straight at London 2012.
“It’s time to change our mindset because we’ve got an image to protect. When people talk about the Spain team they talk about the success we’ve had, but there’s a very fine line between winning and losing. I don’t like the words failure or disaster because I’m a very positive person by nature. This is a big disappointment though,” Spain coach Luis Milla.
The schedule (all times local)
Brazil-New Zealand, Newcastle, 14:30
Egypt-Belarus, Glasgow, 14:30
Japan-Honduras, Coventry, 17:00
Mexico-Switzerland, Cardiff, 17:00
Spain-Morocco, Manchester, 17:00
Korea Republic-Gabon, London 17:00
Senegal-United Arab Emirates, Coventry, 19:45
Great Britain-Uruguay, Cardiff, 19:45