Olympics Soccer 2012: 5 Players You'll See Starting in the 2014 World Cup
A few soccer players who will be competing in the Olympics later this month will also be participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup that will be held in Brazil in two years.
The reason that the majority of players on each team don’t compete in both events is because of a unique Olympic soccer rule. This rule states that only three players over the age of 23 are eligible for selection per squad, while the remainder must be under that limit.
The reason this rule was implemented by FIFA was to preserve the World Cup as the primary soccer tournament around the world.
Generally, the only players who play on both squads are the “over age” players, since it’s extremely rare that a player shows such immense talent at such a young age.
It does happen on rare occasions, though.
Here are five players who are competing in the Olympics, who will also be starting during the 2014 World Cup.
Diego Benaglio (Switzerland)
Club Team: VfL Wolfsburg
Diego Benaglio has a ton of experience playing with the Switzerland national team.
As a 22-year-old in 2006, Benaglio was called up to be the third goalkeeper on the roster during the World Cup in Germany, but didn’t make a single appearance. He would eventually make his first start in a major tournament during the 2008 European Championships, and has been the team’s starter ever since.
Benaglio has played in a total of 43 matches with Switzerland, putting him third all-time amongst goalkeepers for the team. He is only 12 matches shy of becoming the team’s all-time leader.
He will be looking to achieve this goal by starting every game for Switzerland in both the upcoming Olympics and 2014 World Cup.
Maynor Figueroa (Honduras)
Club Team: Wigan Athletic
Maynor Figueroa is definitely the veteran leader of the Honduras squad. He has been a fixture in their defense since 2003.
Even though he’s not even 30 years old, Figueroa has already played in 85 games with the national team. Having said that, he has never appeared in the Olympics and only played in the World Cup on one occasion in 2010.
Figueroa excels at long throw-ins and taking corners and free kicks. Expect him to be heavily involved in the majority of the scoring chances that Honduras has during the Olympics.
Park Chu-Young (South Korea)
Club Team: Arsenal
Park Chu-Young is one of only two players on the South Korea roster who plays club soccer in the English Premier League.
He played in his first tournament with the Korea Republic national team during the 2006 World Cup when he was only 21 years old. He now has played in 42 career games with the team and has 12 goals and nine assists in that time.
South Korea has never brought home a medal in the Olympics or World Cup, but Park Chu-Young will be looking to change that when he starts during the 2012 Olympics and 2014 World Cup.
Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
Club Team: Liverpool
Luis Suarez made a name for himself when he helped lead Uruguay to a fourth-place finish at the 2010 World Cup. During the tournament, Suarez was second on the team in goals scored and tied for the team lead in assists.
Uruguay has only participated in the Olympics twice during the team’s history, but has been very successful both times. Their overall record is nine wins and only one loss in the two tournaments combined. They took home the gold medal on both occasions.
Suarez will have his work cut out for him if he wants to continue his previous success with the national team at the upcoming Olympics and World Cup in 2014.
Club Team: Santos
Neymar is the only player on this list who is actually under 23 years of age and will definitely start during both the Olympics and World Cup.
The 20-year-old isn’t just another rising star in this sport. He is such a talented soccer player that he is already being compared to the best player in the world today in Lionel Messi.
Neymar is currently under contract with Santos through the 2014 World Cup, but is believed to have already agreed to team up with Messi and join Barcelona after that, according to Lancenet (via Xinhuanet.com).
If teams like Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus and Real Madrid are willing to pay serious money to acquire a 20-year-old player with no real international experience, you know he is ready to break out and shine during the upcoming Olympics and World Cup in 2014.