Although the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014 will be officially opened on Saturday, the hunt for medals in the boys’ football tournament begins with two highly anticipated matches on Friday evening.
Honduras’ young representatives will hope to build upon Central American football’s recent wave of success as they start their campaign against Iceland, before Korea Republic attempt to stake their claim for silverware against Cape Verde Islands.
Honduras - Iceland, Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Friday 15 August, 18:00 local time
Honduras have made impressive strides onto football’s world stage in recent years. Their senior team qualified for two successive FIFA World Cup™ finals while their Olympic side stormed into the quarter-finals at London 2012. The Central American nation has also left its mark in youth competitions, reaching the last eight of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 and winning the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 Championship the same year. Coach Jorge Jimenez’s team will seek to build on these successes in Nanjing but must first overcome formidable opponents Iceland. The country’s senior team only failed to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ finals after losing to Croatia in the play-offs, and the boys’ team have since emerged victorious from UEFA qualifiers against Moldova, Finland and Armenia to give them plenty of confidence as they travel to China.
Cape Verde Islands – Korea Republic, Jiangning Sports Centre Stadium, Friday 15 August, 20:45 local time
The South Koreans are among the top medal favourites and will be hoping to repeat their charge to the title at last year’s Asian Youth Games, also held in Nanjing. Standing in the way in their opening match will be Cape Verde Islands, making their first appearance in the finals of a FIFA tournament. The African side will draw inspiration from the country’s senior team, who qualified for the CAF African Cup of Nations for the first time in 2013 before making a surprise run to the quarter-finals. The young Blue Sharks are keen to leave a similarly bold impression on this month’s competition in the Far East.
44 – A total of 44 goals were scored in 11 matches at the inaugural Boys’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament 2010 in Singapore. A similarly spectacular scoring rate would delight crowds at the 2014 competition.
Player to watch
Lee Changmin (KOR)
The Korea Republic goalkeeper proved to be practically unbeatable during the Asian Youth Games, conceding just one goal in six matches and keeping a clean sheet in each of the three knockout rounds. A medal could be on the cards if the South Korean No1 can deliver a similar performance at the Youth Olympic Football Tournament 2014.
Did you know?
Several internationally renowned footballing stars including Patrick Vieira and Henrik Larsson can trace their roots to the Cape Verde Islands.