The Olympics offer a unique opportunity to take note of some emerging youngsters whilst also enjoying the accomplished play of a few seasoned veterans. Here are 10 of the best..
Goal.com lists the top five emerging youngsters as well as the top five veterans on show...
|Name : Kim Bo-Kyung
D.o.B. : 6th October 1989
Team : South Korea
Position : Attacking Midfielder/Winger
Club : Cerezo Osaka
Kim Bo-Kyung is not the most popular name at the Olympics but the football fans in South Korea know exactly what he's capable of. The 22-year old is blessed with great vision, outstanding technique and a battery that never dies. He has been labelled as Park Ji-Sung's natural successor and it's easy to see why. The last two seasons in the J. League Division 1 have seen the Cerezo Osaka midfielder come of age by performing consistently for the side that also produced Japanese starlet, Shinji Kagawa. Kim scored 9 goals in 18 appearances for the club last season and attracted interest from Borussia Dortmund and Celtic. However, the South Korean has chosen to play for English Championship side, Cardiff City.
|Name : Serigne Modou Kara Mbodj
D.o.B. : 11th November 1989
Team : Senegal
Position : Defensive Midfielder/Centre Back
Club : Tromso IL
Senegal may be missing Newcastle strikers Papisse Cisse and Demba Ba but fellow Premier League players Mohamed Diame (Wigan) and Magaye Gueye (Everton) will still attract the attention of audiences. However, Kara could be the midfielder to watch out for. The 22-year old is a regular feature in Norweignian side, Tromso and has been linked with a move to the Premier League since 2010 with Arsenal frequently being touted as one of the interested parties. Kara is a combative player who is usually deployed as a defensive midfielder but can also play as a central defender. He played four times in the 2011 U-23 African Cup and scored one goal. He is a big, powerful midfield enforcer who is likely to move to a big club this summer.
|Name : Cesar Azpilicueta Tanco
D.o.B. : 28th August 1989
Team : Spain
Position : Right Back
Club : Olympique de Marseille
Azpilicueta established himself as a regular at Osasuna at the age of 18. His transfer to Marseille only confirmed the 22-year old as an exciting talent. The full back does not have much going against him as far as his ability is concerned. He likes to tackle and doesn't get many of them wrong. For a young player, he reads the game well and frequently makes interceptions while also being committed in blocking shots. He has the pace and crossing ability to make it as one of the foremost full backs in European football. His performances last season have caught the attention of Premier League powerhouse, Chelsea who are in the hunt for a young right back and have been heavily linked with the highly-rated Spaniard.
|Name : Marco Jhonfai Fabian de la Mora
D.o.B. : 21st July 1989
Team : Mexico
Position : Attacking Midfielder
Club : Club Deportivo Guadalajara
The recently turned 23-year old, plays as an attacking midfielder or as a second striker. The young Mexican is expected to move to Europe soon after proving his worth at current club, Guadalajara. He starred for the U-23s during the preliminary tournament to qualify for the Olympics and also shone for the side at the 2012 Toulon tournament. He was the top scorer at both competitions as his record for the U-23s stands at 13 goals in 12 appearances. He is well remembered for his two quite spectacular goals against Barcelona during a friendly for Chivas that saw the Mexican side defeat the European giants last summer. He does not offer his team much defensively and is not the best in the air but his pace, dribbling, passing and shooting makes him a prolific scorer and a constant threat to defenses.
|Name : Gaston Ezequiel Ramirez Pereyra
D.o.B. : 2nd December 1990
Team : Uruguay
Position : Winger
Club : Bologna FC
Gaston Ramirez is one of the best players in the Uruguayan side. The tricky winger loves to dribble with the ball and does draw fouls often. Coincidently, he possesses a great delivery and winds up taking most of the free-kicks he wins. His short passing is impeccable and his shots from range rarely fail to impress. The 21-year old is steadily growing in stature by featuring regularly in the Serie A for Bologna. He scored eight goals and provided five assists from 33 games last season. The winger has been linked with a host of clubs this summer including Liverpool, Juventus and Tottenham.
|Name : Ryan Joseph Giggs
D.o.B. : 29th November 1973
Team : Great Britain
Position : Central Midfielder/Winger
Club : Manchester United
We start with the lynchpin of veterans, not just at the Olympics but in world football as a whole. At the ripe age of 38, Ryan Giggs is all set to captain Great Britain at this edition of the Olympics. One of the most dangerous wingers in his prime, the 'Welsh Wizard' has since adapted his game and has featured in a more central position in recent years. He uses his experience and intelligence to good effect in the middle of the park and is always deceptively energetic for a player of his age. While being accomplished at passing the ball, his ability to weave his way past defenders with it is still one of his strengths and although he does that at a significantly slower pace now, all the jinks and shiftings of weight still trouble defenders. He will bring much composure and know-how to a young side while his mere presence in the dressing room and on the field will give the team a big lift.
|Name : Maynor Alexis Figueroa Rochez
D.o.B. : 2nd May 1983
Team : Honduras
Position : Left Back
Club : Wigan Athletic
Here's an interesting fact, Maynor Firgueroa is the only professional footballer in the world to not have all ten toes. He lost two of his toes in an accident as a child. Nevertheless, today the Wigan defender is easily the most recognized player in the Honduran team in the absence of Wilson Palacios. The 29-year old is a reliable full-back who uses his physicality to good effect. He enjoys getting forward as well and can release a stinging shot from range. He provides the team with the added advantage of using a long throw-in while his delivery from set pieces is just as effective.
|Name : Thiago Emiliano da Silva
D.o.B. : 22nd September 1984
Team : Brazil
Position : Centre Back
Club : Paris Saint-Germain
Thiago Silva has just been part of a mega-money deal that took him and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint-Germain from AC Milan. It's not difficult to see why PSG were desperate to sign the 27-year old. Thiago is quite simply, the ideal modern day central defender. He's quick, agile, comfortable with the ball and is a threat in the opposition's penalty box. Added to those attractive attributes is his ability to be a proper defender as well. He can read the game, tackle effeciently and win aerial battles. His pace allows him to match even the quickest forwards stride for stride.
|Name : Mohamed Aboutrika
D.o.B. : 7th November 1978
Team : Egypt
Position : Attacking Midfielder
Club : Al-Ahly
Aboutrika is a decorated veteran for Egypt. He was part of the Egyptian teams that won the 2006 and 2008 African Cup of Nations. At 33-years old, he now captains the Olympic side. The attacking midfielder boasts a phenomenal goal scoring record in domestic football that stands at 215 goals from 314 appearances. Internationally, he's racked up 27 goals in 81 games. As far as skill goes, the Egyptian star has it all. Playing in behind the striker, he is responsible for much of the creativity produced in the attacking third. He has the pace and movement to run in behind the defence while his aerial ability and strength makes him a prime target for incoming crosses. His determination is a key aspect of his game and it ensures that the skipper leads by example.
|Name : Ismail Matar Ibrahim Khamis Al Mukhaini Al Junaibi
D.o.B. : 7th April 1983
Team : United Arab Emirates
Position : Striker
Club : Al-Wahda
Ismail Matar is arguably the finest player UAE has produced. He won the Golden Boot at the 2003 World Youth Championships and was also voted the tournament's best player, beating away fellow competitors, Andres Iniesta, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, despite being eliminated in the quarter-finals. Four years later, he captained his country to their first ever trophy, the Gulf Cup of Nations where he was once again named best player and was the top scorer. Matar is an intelligent forward who sets up players around him apart from scoring goals himself. His record in the domestic league of 69 goals and 62 assists from 149 games, speaks volumes of the type of influential player he is. He was expected to star in one of Europe's elite leagues as a youngster but the big-money transfer never came and he now faces his last opportunity to make an impression in Europe by means of the 2012 Olympics. The 29-year old cuts an experienced and well respected figure in the dressing room while his passing, pace, dribbling and lethal free-kicks makes him a prominent figure on the pitch.