It is safe to say that there have been one or two shocks to say the least in the men’s olympic football tournament at London 2012, with high profile sides such as Spain and Uruguay failing to reach the quarter-final stage even. Who would have been brave enough ahead of the competition kicking off to predict that the likes of Senegal, Korean Republic, Egypt and Honduras would still be there, but that is the case.
For Egypt, it is a first visit to the second stage since 1984, with goals in each round from Mohamed Salah securing their passage-indeed victory over Belarus was a first since 1928. Egypt’s reward is a quarter-final tie with Japan who have impressed everyone with their style of football, including a 1-0 defeat of Spain no less. With Honduras then scrapping out a goalless draw with Japan, it ensured that the South Americans would gain their first ever qualification beyond the group stages of a major tournament.
Brazil of course were always going to be the team to beat, even if Spain had stayed in, and an emphatic 3-0 victory over New Zealand in which Leandro was in imperious form suggests that they are on course to win an Olympic gold for the first time ever in their history. A last eight tie with Honduras at St James’ Park will not trouble them, as they have the armoury to pierce any defence.
Oribe Peralta’s second-half strike saw Mexico top Group B with victory over Switzerland at the Millennium Stadium, and they too will be fancied as a quarter-final tie with Senegal looms, but the unheralded Africans can boast a very much in-form striker in Moussa Konate who has scored four goals in three matches. Keep him quiet and it is all over, but give him some space and it is game on.
As for Great Britain, well let’s face it, they have not been that impressive have they, and indeed before Stuart Pierce’s inspired substitution during the match with UAE in which Scott Sinclair came on and changed the outcome, it was looking decidedly dodgy. Granted they saw off the challnge of Uruguay in Cardiif, and on the plus side will be housed at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff again. In truth though it is hard to look beyond Brazil for the gold medal.
In the women’s tournament, the USA are reigning champions, and kept right on course to retain the gold medal with a 1-0 victory over Korea that maintained their 100 per cent record. Abby Wambach got the goal that saw them top Group G and earn a quarter-final tie with New Zealand.
Elodie Thomis shot France into an Olympic quarter-final showdown with Sweden after a narrow victory over Colombia, while Brazil will meet Japan after falling to Great Britain in the Group stage. Something has to give as the runners-up at both Athens and Beijing meet the world champions head on.
As for the home side, victory over Canada is well within their grasp, especially with such a solid defence and with full-back Steph Haughton turning into something of a lucky talisman. Mind you, Canada have one of their own in four-goal Meliss Tancredi.
Preference is for the USA to retain the gold.
Olympic Football Odds
BetFred have the best odds for the Men’s Olympic Football with predictably Brazil as favourites at 1/2 folliwed by Team GB at 13/2, Mexico are third favourites at 10/1 and Japan 11/1, Senegal 12/1, South Korea 16/1, Egypt 20/1 and hanging in there on 66/1 are Honduras.
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