The Panenka

A blog dedicated to European Football, World Soccer and the Road to Russia 2018

Rio 2016 Men’s Soccer: Group D

The Panenka previews Group D at Rio 2016’s Men’s Soccer Tournament containing the newly crowned European champions Portugal, Honduras, Algeria and Argentina.

Honduras

Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto

How they qualified: Honduras reached the semi-finals of the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament after taking second in Group B to set-up a tense last-four clash against USA. The Stars and Stripes may have been favourites going into the match, but Carlos Tabora’s side stunned the Salt Lake City crowd with Alberth Elis’ brace securing Honduras direct qualification to Rio 2016 at the North Americans’ expense in a 2-0 victory. Honduras fell to Mexico 2-0 in the final, but that result will matter little to Los Catrachos, who are now appearing in their third consecutive Olympic games.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Harold Fonseca (Juticalpa), Luis Lopez (Real Espana)

Defenders: Kevin Alvarez (Olimpia), Brayan Garcia (Vida), Johnny Palacios* (Olimpia), Jonathan Paz (CD Real Sociedad), Marcelo Pereira (Motagua), Elder Torres (Real Salt Lake), Allans Vargas (Real Espana)

Midfielders: Bryan Acosta (Real Espana), Allan Banegas (Marathon), Jhow Benavidez (Real Espana), Brayan Ramirez (Juticalpa), Oscar Salas (Olimpia)

Forwards: Alberth Elis (Olimpia), Kevin Lopez (Motagua), Antony Lozano (Tenerife), Romell Quioto* (Olimpia)

Argentina

Coach: Julio Olarticoachea

How they qualified: Argentina were the first country to qualify for Rio de Janeiro 2016, courtesy of their South American U-20 Championship triumph in Uruguay in January/February 2015. The Argentinians topped their group in the first round, comfortably beating Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru and losing just the one game, to Paraguay. Maintaining their form in the final phase, they beat the Peruvians once again, drew with Colombia, saw off Brazil and then downed the hosts in front of a 50,000 crowd to secure the title and with it the only direct qualification slot for Rio 2016.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Geronimo Rulli* (Real Sociedad), Axel Werner (Atletico Rafaela)

Defenders: Victor Cuesta (Independiente), Lautaro Giannetti (Velez Sarsfield), Jose Luis Gomez (Lanus), Lisandro Magallan (Boca Juniors), Alexis Soto (Banfield), Leandro Vega (River Plate)

Midfielders: Joaquin Arzura (River Plate), Santiago Ascacibar (Estudiantes La Plata), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Giovanni Lo Celso (Rosario Central), Mauricio Martinez (Rosario Central), Lucas Romero (Cruzeiro)

Forwards: Jonathan Calleri (Sao Paulo), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Cristian Espinoza (Huracan), Giovanni Simeone (Banfield)

Portugal

Coach: Rui Jorge

How they qualified: The squad came agonisingly close to adding their names to the prestigious lineage of Portuguese ‘golden generations’ at the 2015 UEFA U-21 European Championship, eventually succumbing to Sweden in the final on a penalty shootout. They reached Rio by impressively topping Group B, beating England before drawing with Italy and Sweden to book their tickets to Rio 2016. In the semi-final, they came up against a much-fancied Germany side, but demolished the Nationalmannschaft 5-0 with a devastating display of midfield dominance. They fell to the Swedes in Prague after a goalless final. William Carvalho cruelly missed the crucial penalty, having enjoyed an otherwise outstanding tournament.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Bruno Varela (Real Vallodolid), Joel Pereira (Manchester United)

Defenders: Edgar Ie (Villarreal), Paulo Henrique (Pacos Ferreira), Pite (Pacos Ferreira), Ricardo Esgaio (Sporting), Tiago Ilori (Liverpool), Tobias Figueiredo (Sporting)

Midfielders: Andre* (Sporting), Bruno Fernandes (Udinese), Chico Ramos (Porto), Sergio Oliveira* (Porto), Tiago Silva (Feirense), Tomas (Porto)

Forwards: Mane (Sporting), Paciencia (Academica De Coimbra), Salvador* (Nacional Madeira), Sturgeon (Belenenses)

Algeria

Coach: Pierre-Andre Schurmann

How they qualified: Algeria entered qualification for the CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations at the final play-off stage, where they saw off Sierra Leone 2-0 on aggregate, Abdelhakim Amokrane scoring both goals in the ‘home’ leg, despite both matches being played in Bilda due to the Ebola epidemic. That saw the Fennec Foxes into the final tournament, where they finished top of Group B, thanks to a victory against Mali and draws against Egypt and Nigeria. Their 2-0 semi-final win against South Africa confirmed their place in Rio, even though they were edged 2-1 in the final of the tournament by Nigeria.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Farid Chaal (El Harrach), Abdelkader Salhi (Chlef)

Defenders: Ayoub Abdellaoui (USM Alger), Abdelghani Demmou* (MC Alger), Houari Ferhani (Kabylie), Ryad Keniche (Setif), Miloud Rebiai (Setif)

Midfielders: Haris Belkebla (Tours), Sofiane Bendebka* (Hussein Dey), Abdelraouf Benguit (Paradou), Mohamed Benkhemassa (Alger), Zakaria Draoui (Belouizdad)

Forwards: Rachid Ait Atmane (Sporting Gijon), Mohammed Benkablia (Oran), Baghdad Bounedjah* (Al Sadd), Oussama Darfalou (Alger), Zakarya Haddouche (Sétif), Ben Tahar Meziane (USM Alger)

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