Football in the Olympics started last week with some surprising results. Stars like Neymar, Mata, Luis Suarez and Giggs were on parade showing the stuff they are made of.
Most Nigerian fans did not show much interest in football because both the male and female teams did not qualify. There have been goals, thrills, excitement and tears in the first round of matches so far and we look at lessons learnt from football in the Olympics so far
Spain were too confident
One of the favourites to win the gold in football is Spain alongside Brazil. The Spanish team comprise of stars like David De Gea, Juan Mata, Xavi Martinez, Jordi Alba and Iker Munian, most of these players are first team regulars in their clubs.
But they crashed out in the group stages after losing to Japan and Honduras. Spanish football is experiencing a golden era at the moment with the senior team winning their third consecutive international tournament at the just concluded European championship.
The Under 19 also last month won the European championship. Many thought that their Olympic team will at least reach the final of the Olympics' men football event, but after losing their first two games against Japan and Honduras- teams they were expected to beat easily ended their adventure in the Olympics. They were too overconfident and most of the players were already talking about a potential showdown with Brazil in the finals.
The team was also under immense pressure to live up to the standard set by their senior side, who are being regarded as one of the greatest football teams ever. The future is not looking good for this set of players in the national team save for some few.
Spain will take consolation from the fact that most of the players that won the European Championship in Ukraine and Poland will still represent the country come 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Senegal is Africa's best bet
Senegal were paired with Great Britain, the host and Uruguay and the African team were not expected to make it to the next round .An aggressive performance from Senegal against Great Britain saw them snatch a one all draw. Against Uruguay who have arguably the best attack in the tournament with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the Senegalese stunned them winning by two goals. Senegalese striker Moussa Konate has been the star of the show for Senegal and one of the best players in the tournament so far. He scored the two goals against Uruguay and the goal against Great Britain. His positioning and goal poaching is similar to Papiss Cisse who was stopped from representing Senegal in the Olympics by his club coach. He currently ply his trade with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel and with the rate he is going he will definitely not be in Isreal come start of next season. Win or lose the Senegalese have had a fantastic tournament.
Neymar is the next best thing
In football every player defines an era, in the late 60s and early 70s Pele was the golden boy,70s was dominated by Cruyff, Maradona exploded in the 80s and early 90s, Ronaldo Da Lima in the mid-90s to early 2000s,Ronadinho dominated for 2004 to 2006 then Messi took over and is still dominating.
Currently Messi and Ronaldo are going head to head as the best players in the world today. Since Ronaldinho glory days ended in Brazil, the Samba nation has lacked a genuine superstar to return the nation back to its glory days. Robinho has fallen short and it is looking like Neymar is ready to take the mantle and lead Brazil back to its glory days. He has everything to be a superstar, the skills, the goal scoring instinct and the magic.
But he needs to move to Europe to finally show his potential. He is using the Olympics to show the world what he can do like former great players of the past who used the Olympics as their launching pad. Brazil has never won gold in football in the Olympics but with Neymar and the supporting cast of Oscar, Pato, Hulk and Ganso this may finally be the year they break their jinx in the Olympics.
There are still no more minnows in football
The era of the big countries dominating the small teams is over. From the Nations Cup qualifiers to the last Africa Cup of Nations, World Cup and the just concluded European championship it is safe to now say there are no more minnows in football.
Spain has never lost to Japan in any competition but they shocked Spain in their first game. Honduras completed the upset by also defeating star studded Spain 1-0.Senegal also stunned Uruguay 2-0 while Brazil narrowly beat Egypt.