Buoyed by the last-gasp equaliser which salvaged a 1-1 draw with New Zealand, China are now looking for a first Olympics win in Sunday’s meeting with Belgium. By contrast, Brazil can seal a berth in the quarter-finals with victory over the New Zealanders.
New Zealand - Brazil, Sunday 10 August 2008, 5 pm (local)
Belgium - China PR, Sunday 10 August 2008, 7.45 pm (local)
New Zealand - Brazil
Sunday’s match is arguably the biggest in New Zealand’s footballing history. Stu Jacobs’ men were just two minutes away from one of their country’s greatest-ever results before hosts China netted a late leveller in the opening match. The Brazilians, overwhelming favourites against the Oceania representatives and with a narrow 1-0 win over Belgium under their belts, would seal their quarter-final berth with a win.
Belgium - China PR
China are under pressure, as anything less than victory could prove costly. After their late show in the opening match, the Olympic hosts are determined to win and bolster their hopes of a place in the last eight, as the Chinese are well aware that mighty Brazil await in their final and potentially decisive Group C fixture.
The player to watch: Diego (BRA)
The Werder Bremen midfielder gave a dynamic display as Brazil’s chief choreographer and strategist against Belgium, creating a string of openings for the South Americans with his creativity and explosive pace. Combining well with Rafinha, the mobile playmaker made sure the pressure on the Belgian goal remained consistently high.
The numbers game
1 - Dong Fangzhou’s late equaliser against New Zealand was China’s first-ever goal at the Olympic Games. This year’s hosts had failed to get off the mark in all their previous appearances at the tournament.
“It’ll be a difficult match, as the Chinese are much more used to the climate. We’re losing a lot of weight because we’re sweating so much. They also have the crowd behind them, so it won’t be easy for us," Belgium midfielder Tom de Mul, Belgium.
“I hadn’t played a competitive match for four months. Now I’m back and I’m over the moon. I’m not feeling any pressure at all," Brazil striker Ronaldinho.