Another scintillating end to Olympic football. The wait is over. Mexico has finally lifted it’s first gold medal; one which was earned for – for a very long time by Brazil. Asia and Central America did us proud while Europe disappointed us. Africa managed to pull off some upsets. Teams like Great Britain, Spain and Uruguay, which according to media pundits were expected to make it to the podium, stumbled and fizzled off.
The Olympics had always acted as a stepping-stone for young players to show their true potential. The potential, which they hope would eventually be noticed by European clubs (for those that already play in the continent – by famed European clubs).
Here are a few potential stars; we would have loved to invest in if we were sports agents.
Pape Moussa Konate (Senegal)
The 19-yr-old striker who currently plays for Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv caused havoc with his at-will goal scoring abilities. Having scored 5 goals in 4 games, he displayed his gift of being in the right place at the right time. Some of these were not as entertaining as we would like it to be, but what do you expect from a person at that position? Few EPL clubs (Arsenal and West Ham United) are currently interested in him however due to lack of senior level games played, he would probably face some trouble obtaining a UK work permit.
Omar Abdul Rahman (United Arab Emirates)
Baby faced 20-yr-old midfielder did not score any goals but had captivated many of us with confidence on his sweet left foot, excellent vision and technical ability. To a point where he managed to draw praises from England right-back Micah Richards and Senegalese Moussa Konate among the many.
Omar who plays for UAE league champions Al Ain has a left foot that has, till date, never been seen on an Emirati footballer. The only concern with the kid is that he looks tad bit too casual on the ball at times. A little like Adel Taraabt. Nonetheless, his exploit on the field has earned him a trial at Manchester City. Something that was denied by his club until his Afro popped up in one of the MCFC training pictures.
Leandro Damiao (Brazil)
The entire Brazilian team could make this list but we focused on a few that genuinely stood out although it did not win the Gold.
The 23-yr-old Internacional striker is the top scorer of these Olympic games. With 6 goals, he has proven his selection ahead of established forwards like Pato and Hulk. The magnificence of the Brazilian is his adaptability and versatility. He is a classic no. 9 who will get the goals and a target man who can hold up the ball the Brazilian way. There is no doubt that, his rate has skyrocketed since the Olympics began. Tottenham Hotspurs will have to raise the offer from £9m that was initially proposed to £47m in order to obtain his services.
Lucas Rodrigues Moura Silva (Brazil)
Another Brazilian coming of a team that is just stacked with geniuses. 19-yr-old Lucas showed great pace, dribbling ability and trickery to produce many thrilling moments while he was on the pitch. The midfielder who plays for Sao Paolo was unstoppable against England. His raw talent overrides his temperament issues. No wonder, he was pocketed away from Manchester United, a few days ago, by Paris Saint Germain for a huge sum of €45 million. Please keep in mind that it happened after he had agreed to sign with the Manchester outfit.
Roger Espinoza (Honduras)
The 25-yr-old Honduran, also known as El Chino, was a workhorse in the midfield. It was his assist after constantly bewildering the Spanish side that led to the lone goal. And the effect of his performances against Brazil on the crowd was quite evident as they stood up in ovation while he walked off the field having just been red-carded. He set up the first goal and scored the second against a mighty Brazilian squad. He seemed to be everywhere the ball was.
The midfielder who plays for MLS side Kansas City Wizards, had to stay back after the 3 – 2 loss to Brazil due to a mandatory drug test. He managed to draw the anxiety of the officials due to his effort exhibited on the field. Latin American importing EPL club – Wigan is watching him closely at the moment.
Kensuke Nagai (Japan)
It was hard to pick from a very talented Japan side but the eyes fell on Nagai. Even though he missed a lot of good opportunities, the striker was a menace to the defenders of the various teams they played against. The 23-yr-old who plays for J – League outfit Nagoya Grampus Eight is one who can physically hold off defenders and possesses an impressive level of energy for a forward. His showing was not as expected against the Mexicans and the Koreans yet, due to his abilities, Scottish side Celtic are thought to be chasing after him.
Giovani dos Santos (Mexico)
We all know about Dos Santos. The 23-yr-old attacker had partnered with some of the greatest players such as Ronaldinho, Messi, Henry and Eto’o while playing at Barcelona. The La Masia graduate has the sort of pace to run past a defender and the agility that could punish an opponent’s groins. Another player with a phenomenal left foot with brilliant dribbling capability. Unfortunately, due to an injury incurred in an earlier game against Japan, he did not feature in the final. Something he would rue as Mexico surprisingly beat Brazil to win the Gold Medal.
But we all also know that even though he has managed to deliver for Mexico when it has called on upon him, his flair avoids him at the club level (Tottenham Hotspurs). It will be exciting to see how the Mexican manages to build on his Olympic performances into the coming 12/13 domestic season.
Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
3 goals for the 20-yr-old Egyptian in the Olympics. Salah – another left footed striker playing currently for Swiss side – FC Basel, provided strong and consistent performances for Egypt. A very poised athlete and one we should keep an eye on as he progresses through the rank at FC Basel.
Some of you might not agree with this as there were many other young kids that could potentially be placed out here. Few members of the South Korean contingent deserved to be in the list but wanted to focus on the eight mentioned here.
Who do you think should have earned a spot in this list and who would you have taken off? Shout it out.