Oly-Whites face huge hurdle
July 31, 2012 12:12:38 UK
New Zealand's men's team will have to beat Brazil to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Olympic soccer tournament, after drawing with Egypt.
After losing their opening game to Belarus, the Oly-Whites had targeted the three points against Egypt, but could only manage a 1-1 draw. Their only hope of advancing is to beat Brazil - who have won both their matches so far - and hope that Belarus beat Egypt.
We will go in and do our best but that Brazil team is a freak-show of a team.Ryan Nelsen
Chris Wood scored New Zealand's goal at Old Trafford, while it took some do-or-die defending by skipper Ryan Nelsen and his back-four and star goalkeeper Michael O'Keeffe, to earn the point.
Coach Neil Emblen said the All Whites had to "hope we have the game of our lives and they have an off-day".
He added: "Yes, we have the hardest fixture. We need Egypt to beat Belarus and hope the goal difference (allows us to sneak through).
"There's a lot of hoping to do," quipped Emblen, who wants the Oly-Whites to enjoy playing "in such a prestigious game".
"We will go in and do our best," Nelsen said. "But that Brazil team is a freak-show of a team. It's one of the best squads (in the world), let alone at under-23, but senior level."
Brazil boast Pato, the AC Milan striker, Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva, Manchester United full-back Rafael - a crowd favourite - and Nelsen's erstwhile Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Sandro and Marcelo from Real Madrid as well as Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto.
Nelsen said of the draw with Egypt: "With the quality we have up top, it always felt we were in with a chance while the score remained 1-0 or 1-1.
"In the end, it was an amazing last seven to eight minutes ... anyone could have scored. They could have scored two or three and we had a really good chance as well. In the end both teams could walk way regretting they didn't get more out of the game."
The New Zealand men's team is 5253.00 to win gold in London.
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