Rio 2016 Football Tournament – Group B Preview
The Men’s Football at the Olympics is a 16 team competition with four groups, never establishing itself as a headline event, the competition differs from the World Cup and the continental competitions by limiting each nation to only three ‘over-aged players’ who are over the age of 23. This has meant that mainstream media in certain areas view it as a glorified youth competition, but with the Olympic venue being Rio, a city steeped in footballing culture, the tournament may have a greater impetus than usual. RealSport will be previewing both the men’s and women’s events in the coming days, we begin with Group B of the Men’s.
Colombia came in as runners up in the 2015 South American Youth Championship, and with a similar squad available to them in this Olympics, they’ll be hoping to push on into the knockout rounds. Managed by Colombia U20 manager Carlos Restrepo, the side boasts aged Sporting striker Teófilo Gutiérrez as well as Jefferson Lerma from Levante. The side will be aiming to emulate the recent success of the first team and make an impact on these Olympics in South America.
Japan boast a number of young talents that many in Europe will be following with interest during the Rio. New Arsenal signing Takuma Asano is part of the squad as well as forward Yuya Kuba from Young Boys. Manager Tadahira Akiba appears to have been a strange choice for the position, having last held an actual managerial position back in December 2014. Japan finished fourth last time at the Olympics and will hope for a similar outing in this very even group.
Nigeria are one of three African nations to qualify for the Olympics. Unlike their group A counterparts South Africa, the squad comes from a variety of different nations, and readers would be most familiar with Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel and young Roma player Umar Sadiq. Samson Siasia managed the U23 side until 2010, and is currently managing Durgapur FC alongside the national team, to which he was appointed in February. As covered with Japan, Nigeria will certainly feel that this group could be theirs for the taking, and will hope that the squad can use their experience – eight players have more than ten caps – to push forward into the knockout stages.
Sweden’s squad is made up of a number of players that won the U21 Euro Championship, but their squad does have some notable doubts to it, mainly the fact that they only have one striker after Jordan Larsson was not allowed to compete in the Olympics by his club Helsingborgs IF. Håkan Ericson has managed the Swedish U21s and will clearly be looking to build on his past success.