Two Olympic weeks, ten stars
The first round, quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Olympic Football Tournament have produced some magnificent games of football, charged with emotion, goals and suspense. FIFA.com has compiled a list of those individuals who have stood out among their peers; 10 players among the many who have caught the eye over the past fortnight. Remember the names. They could well be stars of tomorrow…
John Aloisi (Australia)
One of three Australian players over the age of 23, you could be forgiven for thinking Aloisi was the youngest player on the pitch with his exuberant performances up front. The Osasuna Pampelune goalscorer punctured opposing defences on countless occasions, winning numerous fans throughout the tournament. The triumvirate of Aloisi and the two wide men Alex Brosque and Ahmad Elrich was truly breathtaking. His outstanding ability in the air was vital to the success of the physical Australian team. Aloisi scored three goals during the tournament, accounting for 50 % of his nation's overall tally.
Stephen Appiah (Ghana)
Stephen Appiah's maturity, precise passing and excellent vision at the Olympic Football Tournament suggest a golden future on the international stage, as the 23-year-old led from the front in Ghana's first two games. In the opening match against Italy he left three defenders trailing in his wake in an extraordinary solo run to lay on the opening goal before blasting home his side's second himself. In the 2-1 victory over Paraguay he put up a blinding display 'in the hole' behind the strikers, instigating all his side's best attacking moves and surging forward to register the decisive goal in the closing phase. However, he had an off day in the 1-0 defeat to Japan which saw the Ghanaians exit the Games.
Fredy Bareiro (Paraguay)
It may be a tough ask to fill the shooting boots of Jose Cardozo but Fredy Bareiro is rapidly proving he could be a worthy successor to the Paraguayan goalscoring king. Having recently scored the winner against Brazil in the Copa America, the Libertad striker has added to his growing reputation in the Olympic Football Tournament with the winner against Italy and two more decisive strikes in the quarter-final victory over Korea Republic. Strong, quick and terrific in the air, Bareiro, like Cardozo, is a menace for any defence.
Lee Chun-soo (Republic of Korea)
He took his time to make an impression but when Lee Chun-soo finally got into the groove he proved what an outstanding player he is. In the 3-2 quarter-final defeat against Paraguay, the slightly built forward scored both Korean goals, including arguably the goal of the tournament - a 35-yard rocket into the top corner. Among Gus Hiddink's Taeguk Warriors, Lee, still 23, has already tasted action in the Spanish Liga with Real Sociedad and with his quick feet, exquisite delivery at dead ball situations and ability to play as the front man or behind, he should give Red Devil fans plenty to shout about in the future.
Mohammed Emad (Iraq)
For the Iraqi team, the number one priority coming into the tournament was to create a cohesive unit. However, Mohammed Emad still manages to shine. The forward who plays his club football with Al Itihad in Qatar, has already scored four goals and been a constant source of embarrassment for every defence he has faced with his speed and all-action approach. Slight in build, the Iraqi player is the perfect foil for Mahmoud Younis at the spearhead of the Iraqi attack. He also scored what will surely remain one of the finest goals of the tournament in the quarter-final against Australia: an acrobatic shot on the turn which brought the entire Middle East to its feet !
Alberto Gilardino (Italy)
The 1.84-metre 22-year-old AC Parma striker, who scored 23 goals in Italy's Serie A last season, is well placed to follow in the footsteps of Paolo Rossi & Co. Gilardino has numerous strengths: He is fast, good in the air, has a powerful shot with either foot, he is a team player and is never afraid to win the ball in midfield when necessary. He has three goals to his name in the tournament so far. His first goal against Japan in particular, when he skipped past his marker before slotting home, encapsulated the depth of his ability. In Italy's opening game against Ghana, the youngster averted defeat for his nation with a late equaliser.
Yoshito Okubo (Japan)
Standing 1.68 metres tall and weighing 61 kg, 22-year-old Yoshito Okubo does not have the physical presence to strike fear into the hearts of world class defenders. However, his modest stature belies an energy and determination which has wreaked havoc amongst the best defences - like Italy's. Okubo's pace, agility and unmistakable eye for goal have served the Cerezo Osaka striker well, producing goals against Paraguay and Ghana. He proved himself a clinical marksman both against the South American's, firing home a powerful shot, and in the clash with the African team, when he headed home the crucial goal in a 1-0 victory.
Momo Sissoko (Mali)
Tall, elegant on the ball and biting in the tackle, Momo Sissoko possesses the complete game and was a pivotal figure in Mali's march to the knockout phase. The French-born Malian oozed quality in the heart of the African midfield and though just 19, his talent automatically thrust him forward as the team's leader. Wining rave reviews from football technicians, Sissoko was instrumental in the victory over hosts Greece. The Valencia player's tournament ended on a sour note - having a penalty saved in the defeat to Italy, but expect to hear a lot more about this boy.
Farid Talhaoui (Morocco)
In a Morocco team which came agonisingly close to qualifying for the quarter-finals, Farid Talhaoui's exploits on the right wing merited special attention. The Guingamp (France) player displayed effortless technical brilliance as well as a fiercely competitive side to his game in every situation. Talhaoui was the main source of supply for the Morocco front line, surging down the flank with his mazy dribbles. He was the outlet for the majority of striker Bouchaib El Moubarki's opportunities on goal.
Carlos Tevez (Argentina)
In a team with high-calibre talent from back to front, ace marksman Carlos Tevez has proven himself a bit special. The Boca Juniors player has taken on the heavy responsibility of donning Diego Maradona's number ten with brilliant aplomb, scoring seven goals in five games for the rampaging Albiceleste. Speedy, incisive and a consummate battler, the Apache, as he is affectionately called back home in Argentina, has fast become a fan favourite in Athens. Whether scoring with his head, hitting off on a mazy dribble or just poaching around the edge of the six-yard box, Tevez has stepped up to stand among the top players at this Olympic Football Tournament. Against Costa Rica in the quarter-final, the blustery striker was in peak form as he grabbed his first-ever hat-trick. And judging by his desire, passion and skill, it will surely not be his last.