London 2012 Olympics Focus - Japan vs. Egypt
The first quarter final of the 2012 London Olympic Football takes place on Saturday afternoon, as attacking Egypt come face to face with Japan, the surprise package of the tournament so far.
Many had not expected Egypt to qualify from their group, as they came up against the likes of New Zealand, Belarus and tournament favourites Brazil. A spirited 3-2 defeat in their opening fixture against Brazil, and a point against a strong New Zealand team had left The Pharaohs needing a win to qualify into the last eight.
Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah had netted in both of their opening fixtures, and the 20-year-old front man set Egypt on their way again in a very impressive 3-1 victory against Belarus in their final group game. The young striker, who signed for Swiss club Basel before joining up with the Olympic team, is a natural born finisher and will be looking to make it four goals in four games when he faces Japan in the last eight.
If any team can keep out Mohamed Salah then it is Japan. In their three group games they did not concede a goal, remaining unbeaten in a group that included all conquering Spain. The Spanish team failed to replicate the domination of their senior squad, after not managing to regroup from their demoralising opening defeat to Japan. Although Spain looked dangerous, Japan controlled the game for the most part and looked an accomplished and well-drilled side. Their strengths lie in their team ethic, as every player who plays for Japan gives everything they have. They defend as a team, and attack as a team, and will be a formidable opponent for the men from Egypt.
Not many would have expected Japan to top Group D, but everyone competing will now be well aware of their determination and very tight defence. In the recent Asian games, Japan won the tournament without defeat and only conceded one goal in their seven games played. With no goals conceded so far in this tournament also, that means they have only conceded one goal in their last 10 competitive International matches.
The first quarter-final will be a clash of styles as the attacking prowess of Egypt will take on the defensive giants of Japan. With Japan on their amazing unbeaten run, making a team like Spain look distinctly average, it will be hard to see them not progressing. Egypt should not be counted out, as they were only a goal away from taking a point against Brazil in their opening match.
Neither Japan or Egypt would have realistically been considered for a medal at London 2012, but the winner will go on to face either Senegal or Mexico, both of which have failed to impress greatly. The team that comes out victorious will have a great chance of achieving a medal.
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