The final berth at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 will be decided in the coming days when Colombia and USA go head-to-head in a two-legged play-off. The showdown, set for 25 and 29 March, should provide exciting football and no little drama, featuring as it does two of the game’s heavyweights.
The first leg will take place in a sweltering Barranquilla, where temperatures of around 33°C are expected, with the return fixture set for Dallas, Texas.
“The possibility of going to the Olympic Games is a huge motivation, as it’s not every day you get to play in that tournament,” said Colombia striker Harold Preciado. “We also know it’s been a long time since we’ve featured at the tournament, so we really want to get through this play-off and realise our dream,” added the Deportivo Cali star.
Preciado will be hoping for a starting berth against the Stars and Stripes but faces stiff competition from big guns like Andres Renteria of Mexico’s Santos Laguna, Roger Martinez of Racing Club in Argentina as well as his Cali team-mate Rafael Santos Borre. Colombia have not graced the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament since Barcelona 1992, while their USA counterparts last took part at Beijing 2008.
For his part, USA coach Andreas Herzog was no less determined, saying: “We’ve got a good group with a mix of young and experienced players. We need get a good result in Colombia so as to secure our qualification at home, and Dallas has always been a good venue for the national team.”