Olympic Preview: Group C, Day 2

Sunday 10 August 2008 (all times Beijing)
17:00 New Zealand - Brazil
19:45 Belgium - China PR

New Zealand - Brazil

For most people the only time these two countries' names will have been seen together was at the 1982 World Cup. New Zealand, debuting with a side that (Wynton Rufer apart) contained unknown after unknown, faced the mights of the three times world champions.

The outcome was a predictable 4-0 thrashing for the All Whites in Seville as they went home with a negative ten goal difference and no points, but maybe, just maybe, NZ can avoid the seemingly inevitable this time around.

Should they play a disciplined, defensive game, in fact, they have every chance of doing so. The Seleção, while far superior to Belgium in their opener, still needed a once-in-a-lifetime strike from Hernanes to break the deadlock, and even then they had a numerical advantage.

Still, there is no doubting this team's quality, and one must wonder whether or not they are simply biding their time as they seek that elusive gold.

It will be a strange sight to see college players and semi-pros from New Zealand go toe-to-toe with Ronaldinho and Diego: maybe this is the romance of the Games that Sepp Blatter was talking about.

Players to watch: Alexandre Pato simply must improve for Brazil, while Ronaldinho's return to the pitch merited some fanfare in the last game: now is the time for him to justify it. For the All Whites, Jeremy Brockie of Hawke's Bay United scored in the first game, of course: his confidence will be sky-high.

Belgium - China DR

How heartbreaking for Belgium to lose both their finest defender and all three points against a Brazilian side whom they were not outclassed by! Coach Jean-Françoise De Sart will curse the loss of the Hamburg man, as well as fellow red card victim Marouane Fellaini,but there is little time for self-pity.

Indeed, one could look on the bright side and say that few expected Belgium to grab a point anyway, so now they are merely on track, as opposed to over the edge.

The Red Devils, while comfortable at the back in the last game, now must experience life after Kompany, and if they are to avoid elimination they must also start to show a bit more attacking ambition.

The hosts, backed by over 40,000 at thefirst match in Shenyang, only picked up a point at New Zealand thanks to Dong Fangzhou's late equaliser.

The Manchester United hero, then, will seek to capitalise on Belgium's misfortune by leading his team to another three points in a game that doesn't quite seem to be the impossible barrier it once was.

Players to watch: Dong Fangzhou, of course, is going to be on the lookout for another strike. For Belgium many of the defensive responsibilities now lie with 23-year-old Sepp De Roover of Dutch side FC Groningen; he must help keep Logan Bailly secure at the back.

Olympic Preview: Group C, Day 2 Reviewed by admin Ucop on 12:43 AM Rating: 5

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