Olympic Games preview: Group C
Published: 26.07.12 / Written by: David Gold
On paper, this should be a walk in the park for Brazil.
New Zealand, rank outsiders, Belarus on their debut and with no recognisable faces in their team. And Egypt, who have endured a nightmare year after the Port Said tragedy which caused the postponement of football in the country. As a result many of their players lack match practise, and the country’s fortunes were compounded when they were dumped out of the African Nations Cup 2013 qualifiers in the first round.
New Zealand had a great World Cup in 2010 but have little to really test them in Oceania. With a clutch of players playing in the US and England, they could mount a challenge for second, but even with the leadership of Ryan Nelsen, will struggle.
Which means that Belarus could well make it beyond the first round of this tournament. Sergei Kornilenko is the big name in a squad largely made up of domestic players, but they had a superb European under 21 championships and that should bode well. This is a great chance for the Eastern Europeans to make their mark on the international stage, and they could not have chosen a better group. They get to play Brazil and their other opponents are weak enough for them to be favourites for second place.
It simply is impossible though to look beyond Brazil as a tip to win this summer. Neymar, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Paulinho, Oscar, Romelu, Thiago Silva, Marcelo. Alexandre Pato, Danilo, Hulk, Leandro Damiao. The list is endless. The only thing that can stop Brazil is themselves. The Selecao are hot favourites for good reason, but have never won Olympic gold. Mano Menezes also needs to win to avoid possibly being fired as Brazil coach after a disappointing Copa America last year. They will come up against Spain and Uruguay later in the tournament no doubt, but it will be an intriguing story to see if Brazil can finally claim the elusive gold medal.
These have not been good years for Brazil. Tactically outmoded and beaten in the quarter finals of the last two World Cups, but for Brazil nothing short of victory is acceptable, and in style too. With the World Cup in two years they need to make the most of the Games as this is their last competitive outing before the competition which they stage on home soil. One thing is for sure, it should be entertaining, and this generation could be the ones who finally restore Brazil’s reputation for the style and quality of their football.
Prediction: 1 – Brazil 2 – Belarus 3 – New Zealand 4 – Egypt