Saturday 06 August 2016, 15:43

Intriguing duels on tap as Brazil look to kick-start journey

Matchday 1 at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament had plenty of surprises, thrills and drama, which only makes the second round of group stage games even more exciting. All 16 teams will be in action again, from Brasilia to Salvador and Manaus to Rio de Janeiro. FIFA.compreviews what’s ahead at Rio 2016.

Match of the day Brazil-Iraq (Mane Garrincha Stadium, Brasilia, 22.00) Brazil take centre stage on Sunday and they will anxious to put forward a more convincing performance after their opening goalless draw with South Africa on Thursday. Their next opponent Iraq also failed to score in their opener with Denmark, but the Asian side were not lacking in creating goal opportunities. Brazil’s backline will need to keep Iraq’s Ali Adnan at bay if they are going to want to keep a clean sheet. Adnan was dangerous throughout the match against the Danes and showed his strength in taking free-kicks on several occasions. The home nation will be hoping Gabriel Barbosa, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar can turn some of the attacking flair they showed against South Africa into goals to kick-start their Rio 2016 quest for gold.

The other matches In Group C, an intriguing battle between Germany and London 2012 bronze medallists Korea Republic will take place in Salvador. The Koreans will not be short on confidence following their 8-0 rout of Fiji. Ryu Seungwoo will be hoping he still has his goalscoring boots on after scoring a hat-trick, while the Taeguk Warriors’ headline star Son Heungmin and Porto forward Suk Hyunjun give coach Shin Taeyong’s side extra bite up front. Germany will be recovering from a thrilling encounter against Mexico on Thursday, which saw them come from behind twice thanks to goals from Serge Gnabry and Matthias Ginter. Coach Horst Hrubesch’s side proved they have a strong mentality, but they will need to be more clinical up front and more secure in the back to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.

Both winners in Group D, Honduras and Portugal, meet in Rio de Janeiro. Jorge Luis Pinto’s Honduran side proved lethal in attack in their 3-2 victory over Algeria, but they will have to raise their level if they are to score against Portgual, who put in a strong display against Argentina in their 2-0 win. Over in Group B in the Amazon, Nigeria and forward Oghenekaro Etebo, who became the first player since 1972 to score four goals at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament, will look to continue their winning ways against Sweden, who put in a solid performance in their 2-2 draw with Colombia.

Player to watch Ali Adnan (Iraq) Brazil right back Zeca will have to be up to the challenge of containing Iraq’s Ali Adnan. The Udinese man was a threat going forward all afternoon against Denmark in Brasilia on Thursday. Adnan will look to attack as much as possible down the left flank and his team-mates are able to find him with effective passes. He has the vision to make the last pass and pace on the dribble, and if Iraq claims an historic win, he will most likely have played a big part.

The stat 31 **– Brazil have won 31 matches in the history of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament and are one victory shy of Italy’s record of 32.

The words “We must play without any regrets. Let’s just play and come back without any regrets. I poured everything into the game, and I felt relieved. Now I have the pressure to prepare myself for the Germany game. We can’t get caught up in our victory but need to settle ourselves and prepare even more intensely for our latter games.” Ryu Seungwoo, Korea Republic

Match schedule Group A Denmark-South Africa (Mane Garrincha Stadium, Brasilia, 19.00) Brazil-Iraq (Mane Garrincha Stadium, Brasilia, 22.00)

Group B Sweden-Nigeria (Amazonia Arena, Manaus, 18.00) Japan-Colombia (Amazonia Arena, Manaus, 21.00)

Group C Fiji-Mexico (Fonte Nova Arena, Salvador, 13.00) Germany-Korea Republic (Fonte Nova Arena, Salvador, 16.00)

Group D Honduras-Portugal (Olympic Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, 15.00) Argentina-Algeria (Olympic Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, 18.00)

(All times local)