Olympics : Basic info and Group A preview

The men’s Olympic football tournament is made up of 16 teams, which are split up into 4 groups of 4 nations. The setup is identical to the World Cup and Continental Championships (EURO, Copa America, African Cup of Nations, etc.), as the nations will all play 3 group games with the top 2 teams in each group advancing to the quarterfinals. The major rule difference concerns the makeup of the teams, as unlike the Women’s Tournament, the Men’s Tournament is an under 23 competition, with each team fielding a final roster of 18 players. The catch is that each nation is allowed to designate 3 overage players (over 23 yrs old) for their roster, so the final rosters will consist of 18 players, with no more than 3 being born before January 1st, 1989. So now that you know the tournament setup and the age restrictions and exceptions for the rosters, it is time to preview the 2012 Summer Olympic Football Tournament starting with Group A

Group A Fixtures

Date Match Venue
26th July United Arab Emirates vs Uruguay Old Trafford, Manchester
26th July Great Britain vs Senegal Old Trafford, Manchester
29th July Senegal vs Uruguay Wembley Stadium, London
29th July Great Britain vs United Arab Emirates Wembley Stadium, London
1st August Senegal vs United Arab Emirates City of Coventry Stadium, Coventry
1st August Great Britain vs Uruguay Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

TEAM GREAT BRITIAN :  They are the Gold medal winners at 1908 and 1912. This is their first entry since 1960.

How they got here: Qualified as the hosts of the Games.

Full Squad:

(Goalkeepers) Jack Butland, Jason Steele.

(Defenders) Neil Taylor, Ryan Bertrand, Steve Caulker, Craig Dawson, James Tomkins, Micah Richards*

(Midfielders) Danny Rose, Tom Cleverley, Joe Allen, Ryan Giggs (captain)*, Jack Cork, Aaron Ramsey, Scott Sinclair

(Forwards) Daniel Sturridge, Craig Bellamy*, Marvin Sordell

Manager: Stuart Pearce


Team Profile :  Manager Pearce selected Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and Liverpool veteran Craig Bellamy, both of Wales. Great Britain’s 3rd designated player is Manchester City defender Micah Richards, a bit of a surprise selection but a steady defender who has 13 caps for England. Pearce’s refusal to select crowd favorite David Beckham, as one of the over aged players, raised quite a few eyebrows as well. But by selecting Micah Richards instead to bolster his defense, Pearce has sent out a clear message that medal counts over sentimentality.

Great Britain has a wealth of experience between their 3 designated players but outside of that, the England roster is filled with youth and inexperience.The rest of the squad consists of a number of promising youngsters such as Butland in goal, Bertrand in defense, Cleverley and Ramsey in middle of the park and Sturridge in attack. 

Key Players : Sturridge, Ramsey and Giggs.

Prediction : It is quite a tough group but they should make it to the next round with the immense home crowd behind them.Serious contenders for a medal.

Uruguay : Uruguay is back in the Olympic football tournament for the first time since 1928, and will hope to replicate the success

Full squad:

(Goalkeepers) Martin Campaña, Leandro Gelpi

(Defenders) Ramón Arias, Diego Polenta, Sebastian Coátes, Emiliano Albín, Germán Rolín, Matías Aguirregaray

(Midfielders) Maximiliano Calzada, Gastón Ramírez, Jonathan Urretaviscaya, Nicolás Lodeiro, Diego Rodriguez, Egidio Arévalo*

(Forwards) Edison Cavani*, Luis Suárez (captain)*, Abel Hernández, Tabaré Viudez.

Manager: Óscar Tabárez

*denotes over-age players

Team Profile : On paper, Uruguay boast one of the strongest squads among the sixteen teams competing. The lethal combination of in for Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez is undoubtedly the key to their olympics campaign. If they click together, Uruguay will be firm favorites. If they cancel each other out and play selfish, Uruguay will be in all sorts of trouble.

The 3rd attacking player to keep an eye on is Abel Hernandez. Hernandez a 21 year old phenom who plays with Palermo in Serie A, has battled injuries the past few seasons but when he is healthy, can be a handful for opposing defenses, due to his blazing speed and classy skill level.

In defense, 21 year old Sebastian Coates anchors a defense that is filled with youth and promise. Coates who signed with Liverpool last season, is the likely successor to veteran national team member Diego Lugano and was voted the top young player of last summer’s Copa America tournament. He will be flanked by promising young players Diego Polenta, Ramon Arias and Alexis Rolin, a trio of young defenders who will all likely move to European football within the next year.

In the midfield, Gaston Ramirez is the biggest name of the group, as the Bologna midfielder has developed into a skilled playmaker since joining the Italian side back in 2010. Ramirez is a pretty player to watch, who is gifted with the ball at his feet and adept at playing in balls behind opposing defenders. Egidio Arevalo Rios of Palermo will also start in the midfield, as the 29 year old is Uruguay’s 3rd designated overage player and should bring toughness and experience to a very young but very talented midfield.

Key Players : Cavani, Suarez and Ramirez

Prediction : Will give team GB a good run for their money in the group stage as well as in the later parts of the tournament if they face off. Should make it to the semi finals at least.

Senegal : “The Lions of Terranga” are set to make their 1st ever appearance in football at the Olympic Games this summer, after qualifying in a playoff against Asian finalist Oman.

Full Squad:

(Goalkeepers) Ousmane Mané, Papa Camara

(Defenders) Saliou Cisse, Victor Bindia, Abdoulaye Ba, Papa Gueye*, Zargo Touré, Kara Mbodj, Papa Souare

(Midfielders) Cheikhou Kouyaté, Sadio Mané, Mohamed Diamé*, Idrissa Gueye, Stéphane Badji (captain)

(Forwards) Moussa Konaté, Dame N’Doye*, Ibrahima Baldé, Magaye Gueye.

Manager: Abdoukarime Diouf

*denotes over-age players

Team Profile : The squad has been weakened by Newcastle United’s refusal to allow participation of the lethal striking duo of Demba Ba and Papiss Cissé.

Senegal like most of the teams at this tournament will be led by their designated overage players, as West Ham signing Mohamed Diame,  Copenhagen marksmen Dame N’Doye and defender Papa Gueye of Ukranian side.

In defense Mentalist Kharkiv will be the key name for the Lions of Terranga. Anderlecht’s Cheikhou Kouyaté is one of the more exciting young defensive prospects in Europe.

Mohamed Diame, an established Premier League star, will add steel to the midfield and will be asked to control possession in and be Senegal’s top offensive playmaker while Everton youngster Magaye Gueye will bring attacking flair to the side.

Senegal’s best strength may still be their attack though, as Copenhagen Striker Dame N’Doye, Everton youngster Magaye Gueye and Osasuna hitman Ibrahima Balde, should be a dangerous trio in London. N’Doye is a guy to watch, as he is just a pure finisher, who has scored at least 24 goals in each of the past 3 seasons.

Predction : They will be the underdogs in this group but 1 good result against GB or Ukraine will make things very interesting in the group.

U.A.E. : Full squad:

(Goalkeepers) Ali Khaseif*, Khalid Eisa

(Defenders) Saad Surour, Abdulaziz Hussain, Mohamed Ahmad, Ali Amari, Hamdan Al Kamali, Ahmed Khalil, Abdelaziz Sanquor

(Midfielders) Amer Abdulrahman, Ismail Al Hammadi*, Habib Fardan, Khamis Esmaeel, Omar Abdulrahman, Rashed Eisa, Mohamed Fawzi

(Forwards) Ahmed Ali, Ismaeil Matar (captain)*

Manager: Redha Mahdi Ali

*denotes over-age players

Team Profile : 

At the Olympics, the team will be led by the legendary striker Ismaeil Matar, considered by many as best footballer the country has ever produced. In the young brigade there are two hugely promising stars in Ahmed Khalil (voted 2008 Asian Young Footballer of the Year) and Ahmed Ali. The only member of the squad to ply his trade outside the country is Lyons’ Hamdan Al Kamali. Overall the squad, which has a good blend of rising stars like Khalil and senior professionals Matar, will look to build on their recent successes in international football with an upset or two against their more vaunted opponents at the Olympics.

Key Players: Ismaeil Matar, Ahmed Khalil, Hamdan Al Kamali

Prediction : The only chance they will have will be against Senegal but having said that, will not be too disappointed even if they go home without any points

Written by RSK

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