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Olympic Preview: Group D, Day 3








Wednesday 13 August 2008 (all times Beijing)
17:00 South Korea - Honduras
17:00 Cameroon - Italy

South Korea - Honduras

With Honduras already eliminated, this game only truly matters to one side, namely the Koreans. However it would serve the Central Americans well to end what has been a disastrous tournament on a high note, and thus they'll still be looking for all three points.

So far Los Catrachos haven't even managed a goal, much less a point, but with South Korea sitting a mere point above them they will hope to turn that unenviable record around. However morale may be low: a 1-0 loss to Cameroon in the last game rubbed salt into the wound produced in that 3-0 thrashing by Italy.

For South Korea this game isn't quite a lost cause. They're three points behind a Cameroonian side that is set to face group leaders Italy: a win here, coupled with a fine goal difference adjustment, could see them scale through to the next round. However, they need Cameroon to lose, and preferably heavily: currently they're four goals worse off than the Africans and they must clear that deficit if they are to avoid going out on goal average or head-to-head.

Players to watch: Park Chu-Young remains the only goalscorer for the Koreans so far and if the goal difference situation is to be fixed it will largely be incumbent on him to set things right. Honduras, playing for pride, will look to captain Hendry Thomas to lead by example.

Cameroon - Italy

Pierluigi Casiraghi's Italy have perhaps been the team to watch in this tournament so far, their 3-0 thrashing of South Korea in the last game making it six goals without reply in just two games. In Cameroon, though, they will face a sterner test.

What's more, they'll meet the Lions without Tomasso Rocchi, the over-ager who is now out of the tournament due to injury. Nonetheless it has been the young guns that have impressed so far - not least Juve's Sebastian Giovinco - and that trend is set to continue.

This game is meaningless for Italy in the sense that they've already qualified, but the manager knows that a win for both the Azzurri and Brazil will ensure that the two do not meet in the next round - a fate both coaches would prefer to avoid if at all possible. As such, although there may be changes in the line-up there will surely be little loss of urgency for Italy.

Cameroon, meanwhile, are in the catbird seat for the second qualifying spot, but first place is not beyond them. For them to reach that, though, they must win here, which is a tall order to be sure.

A draw would be enough to see them through in second place and this may end up being a more realistic target. Indeed, while sitting back is not the usual modus operandi for the Lions, it could work in their favour here: too heavy a defeat could see South Korea leapfrog them into second place.

UPDATE 20:46 CET 12/08: Claudio Marchisio of Juventus has joined Rocchi on the injury list and will return home to Italy.

Players to watch: Some of the unsung players could get a chance for an Italy side that's already qualified. Look out for Daniele Dessena of Sampdoria, who will look to impress, and it could be the case that Andrea Russotto is called up in time to replace Rocchi for this game. Cameroon, still looking to qualify, need their forwards to chip in with a goal: Gustave Bebbe must be able to handle the pressure.

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Olympic Preview: Group D, Day 3 Reviewed by admin Ucop on 5:11 PM Rating: 5

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