The qualification scenarios from Group A at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament could be a lot clearer this Sunday after the conclusion of the pool's second round of games in Shanghai. For their part, Argentina will be hoping to secure their passage to the next round with a win over Australia, while Côte d'Ivoire need to get something out of their game against Serbia to stay in the competition.
With Lionel Messi leading by example, the Albiceleste saw off the battling Ivorians in their opening fixture and are now hoping for more of the same against the Olyroos to secure a quarter-final berth at the first time of asking. The scenario is a simple one, with a win enough to move Sergio Batista's men into the last eight. However, Graham Arnold's side will be hoping to spring a surprise by displaying the same kind of defensive discipline that earned them a point in their opener against Serbia.
With the Elephants' 3-2 win over Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ still fresh in the memory of both sides, the Africans and Europeans renew hostilities on Sunday with both teams looking for their first win of the tournament. Gerard Gili's charges, who are bottom of the group, showed their potential against Argentina but had nothing to show for it at the end, while Zoran Tosic's Serbs know a win would keep them on course for a quarter-final slot.
The player to watch: Gervinho (CIV)
The Ivorian performed admirably in his side's opener against Argentina despite being unable to get on the scoresheet. The captain and forward, who plays his football at French side Le Mans and bears a striking resemblance to compatriot Didier Drogba, has all the weaponry needed to show his worth on the international stage and help his team to victory against Serbia.
The numbers game
5 - The number of Argentinian and Australian players set to renew acquaintances on Sunday having earlier featured in a full international friendly between the sides on 11 September 2007 in Melbourne. The individuals in question are Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi, Fernando Gago, Sergio Aguero and David Carney. On that occasion, a Martin Demichelis strike earned the Albiceleste a 1-0 victory.
"Messi is one of the best players in the world - perhaps even the best. I faced him in a friendly and can testify to how dangerous he is. We're going to have to be intelligent in our marking of him unless we want to suffer. We need to stay alert so as to stop him receiving balls," Australia midfielder David Carney.
"Although we drew our opening game, what matters most is that our hopes are still alive. We're in control of our own destiny, and the match against the Ivorians will go a long way towards deciding our chances of qualification. We know they're a tough side, but we're confident of our chances," Serbia coach Miroslav Djukic.
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