Olympic Preview: Group A, Day 3

Wednesday 13 August 2008 (all times Beijing)
19:45 Ivory Coast - Australia
19:45 Argentina - Serbia

Cote d'Ivoire - Australia

The Ivory Coast could well scale through to the next round with just a point, but Gerard Gili's men are high on confidence after a dramatic, thrilling victory over Serbia. Thus a win could well be on the cards for the African giants.

After a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations campaign an Olympic success would give the Elephants' fans reason to cheer, and so far they look to be on track for the knockout stages at least. That 4-2 win against the Serbs was the stuff of dreams, after all, and sqaud spirit is no doubt at its peak.

Australia held out valiantly against Argentina in their last fixture, only to be undone by an Ezequiel Lavezzi goal late on. That was a hard one to take for the Ockers, who battled so hard, and even more worrying is the news that forward Archie Thompson is now out injured.

As such it'll be a changed lineup that Graham Arnold sends out to meet the Africans, but one that knows that a win is almost certain to see them qualify for the next round.

Players to watch: Gervinho was on fire for the Elephants in the last match and is likely to be high on confidence. Sekou Cissé, meanwhile, has found the scoring touch. For Australia, Adam Federici was sensational in goal against Argentina in the last match; his expertise will be vital. With Archie Thompson out, the pressure is on Nikita Rukavytsya to find the net after he spurned a one-on-one in the last game.

Argentina - Serbia

With the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero up front, one may have thought that a goal-fest was on the cards for the albiceleste. In fact they've managed just three so far, and only one from a striker.

Still, Argentina have managed six points so far, seeing them safely through to the next round. Only a huge shock could see them knocked off top spot, too, so the pressure is off, albeit only to a certain extent.

The exact opposite is true for the White Eagles. Having lost out to the Ivory Coast they still have just a single point, and their destiny does not lie in their own hands. Even if they defeat the Argentines they must rely on Australia at least holding Cote d'Ivoire to a draw, and that's before we even take goal difference into account.

Last time the sides met was at full international level in the 2006 World Cup, and few need reminding of how that went: a stunning 6-0 victory for the albiceleste over what was then Serbia & Montenegro. Argentina coach Sergio Batista probably won't expect the same this time, but he'll at least want to maintain his side's 100% record.

Players to watch: Argentina, having already qualified, may make changes. As such Ever Banega could be involved: the young Valencia starlet is a fans' favourite and has much to prove. The Serbs need goals, and with Slobodan Rajković having scored at both ends so far their hopes may lie with him! Also worth a look is Duško Tošić of Werder Bremen, who made his first start against the Ivory Coast.

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Olympic Preview: Group A, Day 3 Reviewed by admin Ucop on 4:42 PM Rating: 5

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