The Olympics games kicked off in Brazil yesterday, and while all the attention will be on Usain Bolt, football lovers wouldn’t want to miss all the action the beautiful game has to offer in the great soccer nation of Brazil.
Although the under-23 teams of the participating countries will only be aided by 3 overage players, the tournament still promises to be top-notch while the battle for the gold, silver and bronze medals gets hot.
As every competition discovers new array of talents, some other are already known and would be expected to steal the spotlight and shine.
Here are 10 of them to look out for.
One of the most-sought after youngsters from South America, the 19-year-old Brazilian striker will have the opportunity to showcase his goal-scoring prowess to the watching world.
He has notched up 2 goals in 4 appearances for the national team this year and will be trusted with leading the line as they country haunts for its first ever Olympic gold.
SVEN BENDER / LARS BENDER
The German Bender twins are amongst the overage inclusions for the country. The 27-year-old duo arrived the scene when they played huge roles in the team that won the 2008 UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
Sven currently turns out for Borussia Dortmund as a defensive midfielder while Lars plays as a central midfielder for Bayer Leverkusen. Both haven’t been able to hold down starting berths in their clubs and would be hoping to put up impressive performances in Brazil in order to convince their respective club coaches.
The South Korean international and Tottenham forward rejected the chance to be part of the Olympic squad that was at London 4 years ago.
After a great season in his EPL debut with the North London side, the Asian country will now rely on the experience of the 24-year-old to navigate through group C that consists of Germany, Mexico and Fiji.
Brazil has the 22-year-old to rely on at the back. The PSG central defender will hope to hold the rearguard together as the whole nation particularly expects a great showing from the team in their pursuit of glory.
Still an understudy at the French club and in need of regular team football, we are likely to see him at his best as he looks at attracting suitors to himself.
The Argentine striker who currently is on Atletico Madrid’s books will spearhead the nation’s attack as they attempt to hit 3 gold medals in 3 consecutive Olympics.
Correa was being targeted by Barcelona few months ago but opted to continue his career at the Vicente Calderon. Just maybe a great campaign in Brazil will put the 21-year-old up the pecking orders at the club.
Having won the European Championships last month, Portugal wouldn’t mind another addition in a gold medal from the Olympics. And the Porto midfielder has been saddled with that responsibility.
He failed to lead his country’s under-21 to glory at last year’s UEFA European Championship as they could only finish as runners-up. Can he win with the under-23 side in Brazil?
Atletico fans can catch a glimpse of their coach’s son who plays as a striker for the defending champions.
Having won the South American Youth Football Championship last year, the 21-year-old forward will attempt to add another feather to his cap with a gold medal in Brazil.
Definitely the most famous footballer in the tournament, the Brazilian captain has to win the competition by all cost for his country after a disappointing World Cup campaign 2 years ago.
However, a draw against South Africa few hours ago hasn’t made their campaign start out as expected, and the home crowd is already booing the team. Iraq and Denmark are next and Neymar sure wants to put them to the sword.
The newly-signed Arsenal striker got a goal in Japan’s opening game of the tournament, but it wasn’t enough as Nigeria came out tops in the 5 – 4 scoreline.
Asano is being kept a keen eye on particularly by Arsenal fans who are wondering why Wenger signed the 23-year-old striker to help add depth to the attacking department.
Manchester City latest signing will link up with his new teammates next January but has a chance to show them what he can do with the ball at his feet during the Olympics.
It hasn’t started well for the 19-year-old as he missed a sitter against South Africa in their goalless draw. He will definitely step up his game in the subsequent games.