MANCHESTER: South Korea, at Old Trafford this evening, stand between favourites Brazil are their date with a shot at what they believe to be their Olympic destiny.
Brazil have never won the Olympic title and to edge within 90 minutes of tjhat status they must win only the second meeting of sides from South America and Asian team in the last four. The only previous one was Paraguay’s 3-1 victory over Iraq in 2004.
As coach Mano Menezes said: “From the beginning the fact that Brazil had never won a gold medal at the Olympic Games’ men’s football tournament is what has created the pressure. I expect the Korea team to play with intensity, a lot of movement and to play a very dynamic game for the whole 90 minutes. The game will have a lot more tension because it’s a semi-final and there’s a place in the final at stake.”
Over the course of this competition, the Brazilians have shown why they were considered favourites from the off. The team, with superstar Neymar as its focal point, won all three group games and also overcame Honduras in the quarter-finals despite going behind twice. The South Americans’ main strength is in attack and their tally of 12 goals so far is more than any other team at London 2012.
By contrast, the Koreans have been more pragmatic on their route into the last four. A win and two goalless draws in the group stage were enough to send the Asians into the last eight. There they drew once again with Great Britain before winning on penalties.
The sides have faced each other once before at a men’s Olympic football tournament. In 1964 they met in the group stage, with the South Americans winning 4-0 thanks to goals from Elizeu (two), Roberto and Ze Roberto.
If Marcelo plays against Korea Republic, he will join Ademir as Brazil’s second most capped player at Olympic tournaments. Having featured in six games at Beijing 2008, it would be Marcelo’s 11th appearance overall. The current national record of 12 Olympic outings is held by Bebeto.
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