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Men's Soccer Preview: Belgium difficult to stop Flying Eagles at semis
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18:41, August 18, 2008

A young Belgium side has produced some surprising performance before reaching the Olympic men's soccer semis, but they will find it difficult to beat a technically gifted Nigeria on Tuesday.

Rank outsiders before the tournament began, Belgium nearly stunned Brazil in their opening game, their well-organized defence and threatening counter-attacks almost reward one point, but two red cards and a solo goal from Hernanes destroyed their efforts.

After that, the Diables Rouges made two convincing wins over hosts China and New Zealand to qualify, before sinking favorites Italy 3-2 in a thrilling quarter-final.

The Belgians boasts some attacking talents like Sevilla's tricky midfielder Tom De Mul and playmaker Jan Bertonghen. Moussa Dembele have scored three goals so far and will be aiming to surpass four- goal Giuseppe Rossi of Italy at the top of the scorers' charts.

However, Belgium have some troubles in the back line, as injured ace defender Vincent Kompany and suspended Thomas Vermaelen could not play the semis, which is good news for the Nigerians.

"We came here to China to achieve something at the Olympic Football Tournament. We knew we wouldn't find it easy in the first few games, but we're getting stronger all the time," said Belgium coach Jean Francois De Sart.

With gifted striker Victor Obinna, who also netted thrice, Nigeria's attacking force is awesome. They had some impressive performance to top Group B, containing teams like Holland, the United States and Japan, and upset African counterpart Cote d' Ivoire 2-0 in the quarter-finals. The Flying Eagles now have strong momentum to win their second Olympic gold after twelves.

"Back home, everybody knows what this team is capable of. After picking up gold in 1996, everyone's waiting anxiously for us to repeat the feat but we still haven't won anything yet," said Obinna.

Nigeria's technical style will be a headache for the Belgians, as the African players always like to tease their rivals on one-to- one occasions with some shinning skills. The Belgians have been habitual to deal with the European teams, but Nigeria just poses some different challenge.

Another Nigerian player to mention is Obinna's forward partner Peter Odemwingie, who played excellently in the games against Ivory Coast and Italy.

The two teams have not met before at international tournaments, and the winner of the clash will meet either Argentina or Brazil in the final.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 36 14 13 63
2 USA 19 21 25 65
3 Australia 11 10 12 33
4 Great Britain 11 7 8 26
5 Germany 9 6 7 22
6 South Korea 8 9 5 22

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