Olympic Soccer 2012: 5 Biggest Letdowns
The Olympic men's soccer tournament ends August 11, with Brazil taking on Mexico for the gold medal. The tournament had its usual share of stars, surprises and disappointments, as world tournaments often showcase.
Focusing on the latter, here are the five biggest disappointments (including both teams and players) for the London Games.
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Much was expected of Edinson Cavani, but the reported Chelsea target must have forgotten to pack his talent before arriving in London.(Daily Mail)
Cavani was arguably the stand out player in Napoli’s attacking triumvirate last season but failed to find the net in any of Uruguay’s group matches...or provide an assist.
There was unease about him when he had the ball at his feet, which begged a plethora of questions: Did he want to play Olympic Football? Is he match fit? Is he compatible with Suarez?
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When a team that has achieved so much performs so badly, it’s difficult to find an individual who was particularly poor.
Manager Luis Milla submitted a squad that consisted of European Champions and World Cup winners across several age groups. With that in mind, how did Spain fail to secure a win in a group that included Japan, Honduras and Morocco?
It’s all the more baffling that a team containing Juan Mata, Iker Muniain and Cristian Tello failed to find the net over 270 minutes of competitive football.
Prior to the start of the tournament, Spain were heralded as favourites alongside Brazil; they left as the most underwhelming team.
Unsurprisingly, it has been announced that head coach Luis Milla, the man who guided the under-21s to European success, has left his position after failing to win a new contract. (Washington Post)
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The Copa America Champions had not played Olympic football since 1928: a tournament they won.
If anyone had any reservations about how seriously Uruguay were taking the tournament, you need look no further than an Oscar Tabarez interview from May this year.
The Uruguay coach described Olympic football as ‘the gift of life,’ before adding that it was the most important event in world football behind the World Cup. (FIFA)
Luis Suarez personified the passion amongst the Uruguay ranks, and the desperation to repeat the feats of 1924, 1928 and 1930. In that time Uruguay won two Olympic Golds and the inaugural World Cup, in what was easily La Charrúa’s most successful period of football.
When the final whistle of their final match against Team GB condemned them to a 1-0 defeat and an early exit, the Uruguay captain collapsed to his feet and could not move until Matias Aguirregaray hauled him up from the pitch.
Despite the nation’s aspirations to do well, the Uruguayans lost to an underwhelming Team GB and a Senegal team that played most of the game with 10 players. In their tournament opener they struggled to victory over the UAE, who for many periods enjoyed better spells of play.
Uruguay came in fourth in the 2010 World Cup and won the 2011 Copa America, they should have done better.
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Unlike the other entries on this list, Michel Morganella was not expected to be a star at London 2012.
The 23-year-old Swiss right back has so far had an underwhelming career, despite breaking into the FC Basel team at the age of 17.
He signed for Palermo three years later, after only making six first-team appearances for his Swiss employer. Morganella struggled to impress in the Serie A and has subsequently spent the previous two seasons playing for Novara in the Serie B.
Last season was Morganella’s break-out season, a fact that he best emphasised by securing his first international cap in a friendly against Romania on May 30.
A solid Olympic campaign was expected from the 23-year-old, but he ended up leaving London shrouded in controversy.
Following Switzerland’s 2-1 defeat to South Korea on Sunday, July 29, the right back tweeted a racially offensive message on social networking site Twitter.
Yahoo Sport has translated Morganella’s comments, which led Swiss coach Gian Gilli to comment:
“He discriminated, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korean football team and the South Korean people.” (FourFourTwo)
The player has accepted the decision and was quick to apologise for his behaviour.
He said: 'I made a huge mistake after the disappointing result.
'I wish to apologise to the people in South Korea and their team, but also to the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general. I obviously accept the consequences for my actions.' (Daily Mail)
His Twitter account has been deleted and Morganella played no further part in the tournament.
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Team GB’s Olympic football campaign attracted little more than peripheral interest from the host nation’s population; indeed, you could argue the women’s team got the better end of coverage.
The apathy surrounding a Team GB squad, which included the legendary figure of Ryan Giggs, left Pearce in a no-win situation.
If his men won the tournament it is doubtful that home nation fans would have been particularly jubilant; track, field, swimming, cycling and rowing have been dominating the headlines this summer, even tennis has proven itself to be more popular.
Such lack in expectation, however, does not mean that Pearce didn’t fail as a manager.
Psycho picked a squad with little attacking threat; Daniel Sturridge had served as a winger for Chelsea during last season’s league campaign, and Marvin Sordell could not make it into a misfiring Bolton team.
At the back GB were woeful, especially in the heart of defence. James Tomkins’ positioning was poor and the nation’s best right back was forced to play alongside him in order to allow Ryan Bertrand, a left back, to occupy his role.
Steven Caulker looked largely solid but his concentration needs to improve; the Tottenham academy graduate was outclassed by Luis Suarez against Uruguay and played a helping hand in allowing the UAE to equalise in Game 2.
The midfield held onto the ball well, but they were unable to get the ball up the pitch enough. The team were overly reliant on Bellamy to bridge the gap between midfield and attack; a vulnerability Pearce took too long to respond to.
What’s more, there was no sign of the passion that made
Despite these weaknesses, it seems that the former England left back has won over the support of his players.
Daniel Sturridge commented: “He’s known me since I was a young player,’’ said Sturridge. “He gave me my debut at Man City. He gave me my Under-21 debut. He gave me my England debut (against Holland in February). I can’t thank him enough.
"On a collective level he gets the boys going. “If you don’t have a manager like that it’s going to be difficult to get yourself going on the pitch. He says the right things for the boys. He says the right things for individuals. He is fantastic to work with.’’ (The Telegraph)
Despite such praise, questions remain about the FA will do with him next…