Olympic Men’s Football Preview – Group B
One of the outside favourites for the tournament, the Mexicans have looked increasingly promising and exciting in the build-up to the tournament, beating Team GB in a behind closed doors, three thirds of 30 minutes friendly in Spain and winning this summer’s Toulon Tournament in France.
Chivas midfielder/forward Marco Fabian has been the star of the pre-Olympics matches scoring a spate of goals. In fact he has an astonishing 13 goals in 12 games at under 23 level and will certainly be one to watch.
Most of the squad are domestically based. The only player who isn’t is Tottenham flop Giovanni Dos Santos who, despite playing reserve football for Spurs, is still an integral part of the national team and has 59 caps already at the age of just 23.
Former Fulham left back Carlos Salcido is one of the overage players and will look to lead the side with his vast amount of experience.
Héctor Miguel Herrera and Miguel Ángel Ponce are both exciting young players in a promising Mexico squad.
The South Koreans have been consistent qualifiers for the tournament since 1948 although their best finish was a quarter final place. They do have a good chance of making the last eight again, although they will have to get a result against at least one of Mexico or Switzerland who both have excellent young sides.
A number of players will be familiar to British fans. Ji Dong-Won has shown glimpses of his ability at Sunderland while fellow forward Park Chu-Young has shown glimpses of something at Arsenal. In midfield Kim Bo-Kyung has just signed for Championship side Cardiff City and their fans will be keen to see their new acquisition in action and Ki Sung-Yeung has been impressing Celtic fans for the last three years with some top class midfield displays.
The foreign based contingent, along with the promising young home based players in the squad makes a formidable team for any opponent.
The co-hosts of this year’s African Nations are yet another team qualifying for their first Olympic games. But with a weak squad and in a tough group Gabon will probably be looking to do them proud and not suffer heavy defeats rather than take one of the medals.
And like a number of squads in the Olympics, many of the players are domestically based, yet none are star names or instantly recognizable, except to maybe a few of the most hardcore Football Manager fans.
Stevy Nzambe is a young striker who is on the books of Marseille and André Biyogo Poko is looking to break through at Bordeaux. Midfielder Alexander N’Doumbou is another on the books at Marseille although he was loaned out to Orleans last season.
Incidentally, Gabon are looking to the future and to develop their young talent in this tournament and haven’t picked any players over the age of 23.
The Swiss have qualified for their first Olympic games since the 1920’s and enter it with an impressive side capable of causing an upset or two.
The Swiss under 21 side were runners up in the last European Under 21 Championships losing to Spain in the final.
Diego Benaglio, the Wolfsburg goalie, will be one of the over-age players and is impressive between the sticks. Nuremberg defender Timm Klose and Luzern midfielder Xavier Hochstrasser make up the other two over-age players.
Fulham fans will know a bit about the promising young midfielder Pajtim Kasami who will be looking to have a good tournament and impress Martin Jol enough to become a Premier League regular.
Fabian Frei is another talented prospect who scored against Manchester United for Basel in last season’s Champions League and at the back François Affolter is a solid defender who spent last season on loan at Werder Bremen.