Olympic Preview: Group B, Day 3

Wednesday 13 August 2008 (all times Beijing)
17:00 Netherlands - Japan
17:00 Nigeria - USA

Netherlands - Japan

It's been a disappointing campaign for the Dutch so far, but not as awful as it's been for Japan.

The boys from the Land of the Rising Sun will be on their way back home after this match as no matter what the result is they cannot qualify.

After losing out narrowly to the USA in their first fixture, a 2-1 loss to Nigeria followed, thus crushing their dreams.

The Dutch, having been held to a 0-0 draw by the Super Eagles, needed a last-minute equaliser from Gerald Sibon to seal a point against the resurgent Americans.

That is far from good enough for coach Foppe de Haan, who came into the tournament with confidence. Unless his side manage all three points here they're going to go with Japan to the airport.

Players to watch: Royston Drenthe needs to provide invention and Roy Makaay, newly recovered from injury, needs to chip in with goals for a Dutch side whose big names have yet to truly shine. For Japan Keisuke Honda could be a secret weapon: he knows the Oranje quite well, given that he's spent the last six months at VVV-Venlo.

Nigeria - United States of America

Things could scarcely be closer heading into this game. The USA sit atop the group with a superior goals-scored record to the Nigerians, who are just behind as the two sides share four points.

A loss for either side, coupled with the expected Dutch win against Japan, will see the losers head home.

For the USA, Michael Bradley is out suspended, as is teenage wunderkind Freddy Adu, throwing the team's chances of progression into jeopardy. Their showing against the Dutch was excellent and they were unlucky not to win; now without two of their key assets they must start all over again.

Nigeria had by far the best of the game against Japan and with no injury worries to deal with the 'Dream Team IV' are in with a fine chance of progression. However the suspensions of Onyekachi Apam and Olubayo Adefemi at the back are a serious cause for concern.

Nonetheless the players seem to be right behind Samson Siasia and the dream of repeating Atlanta '96 is alive.

Players to watch: Marvell Wynne was a stand-out against the Dutch and will be key at the back. Just as important was Freddy Adu, who started to justify the hype with a mature showing against the Oranje: sadly for the US, he's suspended, so it falls to Jozy Altidore to fly the flag for the young guns.. Nigerian Victor Obinna has shown that he can find the net and he must do so again. Emmanuel Ekpo, who has played both games so far, plays in Major League Soccer for Columbus Crew and thus knows the Americans well.

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Olympic Preview: Group B, Day 3 Reviewed by admin Ucop on 4:58 PM Rating: 5

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