The Chinese coastal resort of Qinhuangdao is the venue where Cameroon, Honduras, Italy and the Korea Republic contest Group D. The first matchday sees CONCACAF challengers Honduras take on the Azzurrini, while Asia's third-ranked team Korea Republic square off with Cameroon.
The match between Honduras and Italy is a repeat of the 3-1 success for the Azzurrini at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament in 2000, when FIFA World Cup™ winners Gennaro Gattuso, Gianluca Zambrotta and Andrea Pirlo were in the squad. Whereas Italy have a good record against CONCACAF opposition (seven wins and just two defeats), Honduras have lost all six of their FIFA finals matches on Asian soil, conceding an average of four goals per game. Incidentally, Italy are the only reigning FIFA World Cup winners (1934) to have won the Olympic Football Tournament two years later.
The clash between Korea Republic and Sydney 2000-winners, Cameroon brings together two teams who have never met before at a FIFA competition. However, both teams enter the Beijing Games with considerable pedigree, as they were unbeaten in their respective qualifying campaigns. While Cameroon saw off the challenge of Morocco, Botswana and Guinea, Korea Republic kept Bahrain, Syria and Uzbekistan at bay to book their ticket for Beijing.
The player to watch: Giuseppe Rossi (ITA)
Italy's No11 is well known by football fans in England and Spain for his exploits with Manchester United, Newcastle United and now Villarreal, but the Olympics will mark Rossi's first real chance to shine on the world stage. The US-born forward, who is expected to form one third of Italy's attacking trio, scored 11 goals in 27 La Liga games last season and will be looking to get off the mark quickly in the Olympics.
The numbers game
7 - This is Italy's seventh consecutive participation in an Olympic Football Tournament, a record that matches their own best run from 1912 to 1952. They have also participated more than any other team (15) and played more matches (57).
"This team comes from a good generation of players, and I have no doubt whatsoever they can compete at the highest level with anyone," Honduras coach Gilberto Yearwood
"When I look back on previous tournaments, there were some players who were good individually, but could not work with the team. So this time, I will choose 'team players' who are well-motivated enough to achieve our goal," Korea Republic coach Park Sung-Hwa