London 2012 Olympics Focus – Group B

Match day 3 brings Group B of the London Olympics to a conclusion, with Mexico facing Switzerland at the Millennium Stadium and South Korea facing Gabon at Wembley. Currently, Mexico lead Group B from Korea on goal difference, each on four points with Switzerland and Gabon trailing on a point each. All four teams still have possibilities of progressing to the quarter-finals.

Switzerland face a difficult task against Mexico, missing key players from the start. They have not lived up to expectations, and now Michel Morganella has been expelled from the Olympics for allegedly tweeting racist comments. Against a Mexican team yet to concede in the tournament, the Swiss need to win and score goals to have a chance of going through.

Despite this, goalkeeper Diego Benaglio is putting forward a confident front, telling Fifa.com: All the options are still open. We believe in our chances and we’ll do everything we can to reach our goal.” He continued: “If we can continue improving with every game, which has been the case so far, I’m convinced we can book our place in the quarter-finals against Mexico.”

Mexico will probably be missing both Hector Herrera and Javier Aquino through injury, which may mean a starting role for Jorge Enriquez. Giovani Dos Santos has stated his desire to start, and even before injuries may have been in line to do so following his impact off the bench. Against South Korea, he helped fashion Mexico’s main chances, whilst scoring both goals in El Tri’s 2-0 victory over Gabon.

Like Mexico, South Korea need just a point to progress to the knockout stage, whilst Gabon must win. The Panthers already depleted squad will be missing Henry Ndong following his red card against Mexico. Gabon will be heavily dependent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to get goals, with a supply line of Alex Ndoumbou, Jerry Obiang and Levy Madinda. With all to play for and nothing to lose, Coach Claude Albert Mbourounot could also opt to select Allen Nono to augment the strike force. In contrast, South Korea have no injury worries or suspensions for the match.

Coach Hong Myung-Bo will be looking to his Taegeuk Warriors to continue their good form and progress to the quarter-finals for only the third time in their history. South Korea may be wary of Gabon’s strength, resilience and the class of Aubameyang, however Hong Myung-Bo has no intention of his side settling for the draw, saying in a recent interview: “We aren’t going to approach this game passively, assuming that we can qualify for the quarterfinals with a draw.”

This was a sentiment echoed by Celtic’s Ki Sung-Yeung, who told Fifa.com: :We have the quality to impose our wonderful passing game on a match. We’re set up for a fast, short passing game, we like to get it forward and create chances. We value passion and commitment very highly. We might not be the biggest team on paper, but we’re still physically and technically strong, and we run hard. It all gives us real flexibility.”

South Korea displayed these qualities in their victory over Switzerland and it might be a surprise for the team not to at least get the draw they need to progress from the group.

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