OLYMPICS: Oly Whites Tracker Men's Soccer Group C Roundup - Game 1
The men’s London 2012 Olympic soccer tournament kicked off on Wednesday with plenty of interesting results, most notably in Group A where Uruguay scored a 2-1, comeback victory over United Arab Emirates and in Group D as tournament-favorite Spain suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Japan.
Yet, it was on the matches in Group C that Timbers supporters cast their attention, in particular New Zealand’s game against Belarus as the hope was that Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson would return to the Oly Whites starting XI. However, Gleeson was held out of the match due to a sore groin and New Zealand was undone by Dmitry Baga’s lone goal in first-half stoppage time. The other match in Group C saw Brazil—widely viewed as one of the gold-medal favorites alongside Spain—allowed a proud Egypt side back into the game, before hanging on for a 3-2 win.
New Zealand vs. Belarus
The Belarusians claimed their first triumph at a major international tournament since gaining independence 21 years ago with their 1-0 win over New Zealand. The Oly Whites had a handful of chances with four shots on goal, but couldn’t find the cutting edge. New Zealand conceded when goalkeeper Michael O’Keeffe misjudged the flight of the ball from a Belarus corner kick and missed his attempt to punch the ball clear. It fell right to the head of Baga, who nodded home the winner just before the break.
Brazil vs. Egypt
In the group’s other match, Brazil built a 3-0 lead by the half, tearing through the Egyptian defense three times in the space of 14 minutes midway through the opening stanza. New Chelsea signing Oscar was at the heart of the first two goals for the Seleção, setting up Manchester United defender Rafael before teeing up Leandro Damiao. Neymar then combined brilliantly with Hulk, netting a headed goal from a give-and-go with the FC Porto forward as Brazil breezed its way to a three-goal lead by the 30th minute.
In the second half, the Egyptians gave their fans a showing to be proud of as Mohamed Aboutrika threw the Pharaoh's a lifeline, putting home a loose ball in the 52nd minute. Mohamed Salah gave the Egyptians further hope, poaching a second goal in the 76th minute, but it was all the North Africans could muster.
Wednesday’s results make Sunday’s match between New Zealand and Egypt (4 a.m. PT) must-see TV as a win for either side would almost certainly eliminate the other from London 2012.
Timbers fans can continue to follow Gleeson as he and the Oly Whites prepare for Sunday’s match with the Pharaohs on Twitter (@jgleeson20) and don’t forget to send your soccer chatter with hashtags #OlyWhites & #GoJake.
New Zealand’s Remaining Group C Shedule:
New Zealand Men v Egypt
Old Trafford, Manchester
New Zealand Men v Brazil
St James’ Park, Newcastle