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Four football teams looking for improvement at Olympic prep tournament

All News 12:00 June 01, 2016

By Joo Kyung-don

INCHEON, June 1 (Yonhap) -- The four participants of an Olympic football prep tournament in South Korea said Wednesday they'll try to identify their shortcomings and make improvements ahead of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games.

With the Summer Olympics less than 70 days away, South Korea have invited Nigeria, Denmark and Honduras for the tournament as a warm-up for players under 23. All four participants have already qualified for the Rio Games, where 16 teams will compete in men's football.

In the tournament, South Korea will first host Nigeria on Thursday at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. The host will then face Honduras on Saturday at Goyang Stadium in Goyang, north of Seoul, before they play against Denmark at Bucheon Stadium in Bucheon, 24 kilometers west of Seoul on next Monday.

The head coaches from the four teams said the tournament will be a good stage to test their players and tactics before heading to Brazil.

"I think all teams have the same thoughts before going to the Rio Games," South Korean head coach Shin Tae-yong said. "We will try to find our shortcomings through this tournament to have a good performance in Rio."

Nigerian coach Samson Siasia said, "This tournament is very important for us. We have to improve before the Olympics and we are pleased to be here."

The coaches said they can't guess who will win the invitational tournament, but agreed that all teams are tough opponents. They also emphasized that their teams are not complete at this moment, as they will add "wild cards" later.

The Olympic men's football tournament is open to players under 23, with each of the countries permitted up to three overage players as "wild cards."

"I think it's difficult for us to say that this is our strongest team," said Danish coach Niels Frederiksen. "We have added some new players in the squad and I'd like to use this tournament to look for new players."

South Korea, making their eighth consecutive Olympic appearance in Rio, are in Group C with Mexico, Fiji and Germany. Nigeria, the 1996 Olympic winners, are in Group B with Colombia, Japan and Sweden, while Honduras are grouped with Algeria, Portugal and Argentina in Group D. Denmark have drawn host Brazil, South Africa and Iraq in Group A.

When asked which country will take the gold medal at the Olympics, the four coaches had different answers.

Nigeria picked themselves as the favorites, saying that they should enter the quadrennial event with confidence, while Denmark pointed at hosts Brazil as the top contenders and said their own goal is to reach at least the quarterfinals.

Amado Guevara, the chief assistant coach of Honduras, said that all teams have an equal chance of winning and his team is also looking for a medal. Shin also said that every team can win the Olympics, though he excluded one nation in his group.

"I think every country can win the Olympics except Fiji," Shin said. "We will first pass the group stage and then prepare for the next matches as if they were the finals."

Shin previously said he will try to duplicate South Korea's result from the previous Olympics in London, where they won the bronze medal. It was the country's first-ever medal in Olympic football.

Though the invitational tournament is considered a test-bed for the Olympics, Shin said South Korea will give their utmost effort because they are the hosts.

"These might be the last friendly matches that we play at home (before Rio)," Shin said. "We will try our best in front of home fans and draw more popularity for the Rio Games."


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