Olympic Soccer 2012: Lessons for Great Britain to Learn After Crushing Home Loss

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Olympic Soccer 2012: Lessons for Great Britain to Learn After Crushing Home Loss
Julian Finney/Getty Images

After one of the most devastating home losses in Olympics history, Great Britain has been eliminated by South Korea.

And now the final European team has been sent home. For the first time in Olympics history, there will not be a European representative in the men’s soccer semifinals. Great Britain stood the best chance at seeing such success. While the men’s national team stayed in contention through a 1-1 game in regular time and extra time, they lost to South Korea 5-4 in penalty kicks.

Aaron Ramsey scored the only goal in the game for Great Britain. It was a penalty kick in the 36th minute.

All game long, Great Britain dominated possession (58 percent), committed very few penalties (only two yellow cards all game) and managed to hold South Korea to only one goal.

After 69,000 fans watched Great Britain defeat Uruguay, the national team was forced to go to penalty kicks against South Korea.

While they made their first four shots in penalty kicks, a failed stutter step slowed the momentum of the final kicker, Daniel Sturridge, and the South Korean goalkeeper did not bite. The shot was blocked, and South Korea went on to score the fifth and final shot to win the game and advance to the semis.

“I'm just grateful to be involved. We are not going to win it. We aren't going to come first, second, third," Welsh player Craig Bellamy told Yahoo before the match. “"We are just trying to beat South Korea. You can't look too far ahead. You just can't because anything can happen.”

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Bellamy’s quote was an oddly eerie foreshadowing of what was to come for the national team.

The stubbornness of the British team was exposed in this match, and it seemed as if the team desperately needed the star power of an individual like David Beckham. Beckham was excluded from the roster after making a push to have London host the 2012 Olympics.

Beckham called his speech "one of the proudest moments I've been involved with” and his stellar play as of late makes his roster exclusion a head-scratching decision by the national team.

His leadership and experience would have been a valuable presence for the team that fell just short of an appearance in the semifinals.

After an otherwise impressive day for Great Britain sports in the Olympics, the men’s national soccer team is left with humiliation.

Now instead of riding into glory in the London Olympics 2012 in a semifinal matchup against Brazil, they’re packing up early. Had Great Britain won and then lost to Brazil, very few would consider the national team to be a disappointment. With Britain’s elimination, however, they are forced to become an international laughingstock.

“I was gonna say Team GB will be kicking themselves after that match,” writes Michael Dulka, “but they'd probably miss.”

Perhaps a bit unfair considering only one player missed. The bigger concern was the goalkeeping in penalties. British goalkeeper Butland looked abysmal on the penalty kicks, coming close to stopping virtually none of them.

The English national team is coming off of a Euro 2012 tournament in which they lost on penalty kicks to Italy.

“Well some things never change,” said one British announcer on the BBC.

If the national team ever hopes to contend in this kind of tournament in the future, they’ll have to learn how to either finish the game earlier...or actually complete a successful round of penalty kicks.

 

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