25th July 2012
Team GB take on Senegal at Old Trafford in their opening game at the 2012 London Olympics in a match that could have a major effect on team’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals. Stuart Pearce’s side are seen as odds-on favourites, but the match against Teranga Lions will be no walk in the park.
Had Stuart Pearce been able to select the strongest possible squad out of players from no less than four national teams, Great Britain football team would probably be regarded as one of the candidates for the title at the 2012 Olympics, but this way they look unable to compete with the best sides at the tournament. With Gareth Bale and Jack Wilshire missing out through injury and David Beckham overlooked, Team GB look desperately short of quality to match the likes of Brazil, Spain and Uruguay. With La Celeste also in their group, Stuart Pearce is aware his side need to beat Senegal in their opening game or risk group stage elimination. Following the 2-0 friendly defeat to Brazil, the hosts don’t seem to have a lot of reason for optimism, although with the likes of Richards, Allen, Cleverley, Giggs and Bellamy in the side, they should have enough quality to see off severely weakened Senegal side. Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge should start after recovering from illness, which is a huge boost for the side.
While their senior side have been struggling to reach full potential, Senegal Under-23 team did well to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, after beating Oman in the play-off match held at the City of Coventry Stadium. The Teranga Lions thus ensured their first ever appearance at the Summer Olympics and they are now determined to make the most out of this opportunity, in spite of the series of setbacks. After star strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse refused the opportunity to represent Senegal at this tournament, the national team chiefs were hoping FC Copenhagen striker Dame N’Doye would make sure the team remain a real danger up front. However, after the 27-year-old was refused permission from his club, there is an evident lack of quality in the side, with West Ham’s Momo Diame and defender Papa Gueye now the only over-age players in the squad. With starting right-back Victor Bindia doubtful through injury, Senegal don’t look like they can get something from this game.
Team GB may not be fully prepared for this tournament, but with most of the players regular in Premier League clubs, the hosts do look a good bet to see of Senegal in their opening game. The Teranga Lions are in major problems after Dame N’Doye was forced to withdraw, although they can be trusted to put up a decent fight.
Verdict: Home win Great Britain (1)
Best Odds: 2/3