Mexico - South Korea Preview: Both sides look for postive start in tough Group C opener
Both sides will be desperate for three points as neither has claimed podium spot at the Olympic Games, despite entering the tournament a combined nineteen times
By Rhys Turrell
Jose de Jesus Corona
Jimenez , Reyes, Mier, Chavez
Salcido, Herrera, Aquino, Ponce
Oh, Yung, Y Kim, K Kim
B Kim, Ki, Koo, Han
Mexico manager Luis Fernando Tena has named just one player based outside of the country in his 18-man squad for London 2012 – Tottenham attacker Giovani dos Santos.
However, the former Barcelona man looks likely to start the game on the bench as Tena weighs up a 4-4-2 that would see him fall out of the starting XI.
There is ample top-flight experience in El Tri’s probable line-up though, with former Fulham man Carlos Salcido likely to be given the nod to start in midfield.
Despite qualifying for the last seven consecutive Olympic Games, the Koreans have not made it past the quarter-final stage, and will have their work cut out once again as they come up against the Mexicans and Switzerland.
They will be looking for Arsenal man Park Chu-Young to fire in the goals, despite his lack of match action in north London.
He is one of three British-based players in coach Hong Myung-Bo’s squad, with Celtic midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung joining Sunderland forward Ji Dong-Won.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Mexico are the highest-ranked country outside of Europe and South America at the tournament.
- Chivas de Guadalajara are the club providing the most players for the 18-man squad with four representatives.
- Former Fulham and PSV defender Carlos Salcido (pictured right) is by far the most-capped player in Les Tri's squad with 103 apps to his name.
- South Korea first competed in the Olympics the last time the Games were in London - back in 1948.
- Busan IPark have three of their players in the South Korean squad - more than any other team.
- Arsenal striker Park Chu-Young is the top goalscorer in the 18-man squad with nine goals in 22 games for his country.
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Top 3 Predictions
Mexico U-23 2-0 South Korea Under 23
- 22.02 %
Mexico U-23 2-1 South Korea Under 23
- 14.88 %
Mexico U-23 3-1 South Korea Under 23
- 12.8 %
|Olympic Games (OLY)||26 Jul 2012||Mexico U-23 0 - South Korea Under 23 0|
|11 Aug 2012||Brazil Under 23 1 - Mexico U-23 2||OLY|
|7 Aug 2012||Mexico U-23 3 - Japan Under 23 1||OLY|
|4 Aug 2012||Mexico U-23 4 - Senegal U-23 2||OLY|
|1 Aug 2012||Mexico U-23 1 - Switzerland U-23 0||OLY|
|29 Jul 2012||Mexico U-23 2 - Gabon U-23 0||OLY|
|10||Giovani dos Santos||Striker|
The 22-year-old midfielder scored a 14th-minute equaliser against Netherlands in El Tri’s 4-2 semi-final win at the competition, and played a crucial role as they defeated Turkey 3-0 in the final.
If he can carry that form into London 2012 then he may well be one of the surprise stars of the tournament.
Aged 27, and with 59 apps for the full national side, he is the oldest and most-capped player in the South Korea squad, and that experience could prove invaluable to his side.
The Swiss should see off Gabon in the second game of the day, so an early advantage to either the Asian side or the South Americans would hand them a key boost to qualify to the next round.
Mexico are on a high following their success at the Toulon Tournament, and that good form allied with the quality of Hector Herrara and goalscoring prowess of Marco Fabien - who notched seven times at the competition - make them favourites.