Matchday 2 of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012 should prove to be a crucial one. While a clutch of sides, Brazil among them, are out to claim a place in the quarter-finals in double-quick time, there are a group of others, including Spain, who need to win to stay in contention.
Match of the day
Senegal-Uruguay, London, 17:00 local time
After making a faltering start against United Arab Emirates, the Uruguayans eventually imposed themselves to collect all three points. The two-time gold medallists now take on another Olympic debutant as they set their sights on topping Group A. Victory over the Africans will secure Edison Cavani and Co a place in the last eight ahead of their final match against Great Britain, though the Senegalese will not be lacking in confidence after snatching a point against the hosts in their first game. Having battled their way through a play-off against Oman to reach London, the Lions of Teranga are hungry for further success.
In the other game in the section, the pressure will be on hosts Great Britain when they take on United Arab Emirates in London. In Group B, meanwhile, there is still all to play for after two opening-day draws. Impressive in holding Switzerland, Gabon face a stiff test of their credentials against Mexico, with Korea Republic facing the Swiss in the day’s other match.
Brazil’s task in taking on Group C rivals Belarus will be to produce the same fireworks they conjured up against Egypt while keeping things a good deal tighter at the back. The Pharaohs’ brave but ultimately unsuccessful comeback against A Seleçao will at least give them confidence for their make-or-break match with New Zealand.
So impressive in defeating Spain in Glasgow, a disciplined Japan side sit proudly atop Group D and can check into the next round if they see off Morocco, who were buoyed by superb strikes by Abdelaziz Barrada and Zakaria Labyad in claiming a point from a gritty Honduras outfit. The Central Americans now face a daunting mission against Spain, who have much to prove following their slip-up against the Japanese. La Roja have no option but to win if they are justify their status as one of the favourites and continue the country’s spectacular run of success in recent years.
Player to watch
Still only 20, Neymar is already a world star and is widely expected to mark his mark on the tournament. In scoring his side third in their defeat of Egypt on Thursday, the Santos man notched the 2,100th goal in the history of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. Brazil will play their 50th match in the competition against Belarus on Sunday, having scored 98 goals to date. Will the Seleçao starlet have the honour of bringing up a century of Olympic goals for his country?
20 - In drawing 1-1 with Senegal on Thursday, Great Britain became the latest host nation to fail to win their opening match in the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament, a tradition that now stretches back 20 years. The last Olympic hosts to kick off with a victory were Spain, who began their march to the gold medal in 1992 with a 4-0 defeat of Colombia.
“Uruguay looked down at us a bit before the first game. Everyone was expecting us to lose heavily but we earned their respect on the pitch. We didn’t have much luck in front of goal, but I’m proud of the football we played. We expect to do better in the next two matches and come away with some positive results,” UAE midfielder Omar Abdulrahman.
The schedule (all times local)
Egypt-New Zealand, Manchester, 12:00
Mexico-Gabon, Coventry, 14:30
Brazil-Belarus, Manchester, 15:00
Senegal-Uruguay, London, 17:00
Japan-Morocco, Newcastle, 17:00
Korea Republic-Switzerland, Coventry, 17:15
Great Britain-United Arab Emirates, London, 19:45
Spain-Honduras, Newcastle, 19:45