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2016 Olympics - Group A profile

Brazil's Rio 2016 Group A: squads, TV schedule - Men's Olympic Football

July 27, 2016 By Michelle Bonsu
Ahead of the upcoming Rio Games, we take a look at the four teams in Group A: Brazil, South Africa, Denmark, and Iraq. Which of these sides will join Brazil in the next round?

It's not often that two major tournament are played in the same summer, but it's even rarer to have three. Fortunately for football fans, the summer of 2016 has been far from a dull one, with the Copa America and Euro 2016 tournaments taking place in June and July. And to top it off, the 2016 Olympics is set to commence this August, giving fans of the beautiful game a chance to see some established and rising stars in action in Brazil.

Brazil: Rio 2016 Olympics squad, Players to Watch

Brazil have hosted three major tournaments in the past three years. First was the 2013 Confederations Cup, followed by the 2014 World Cup, and now the 2016 Olympic games. As such, the South American powerhouse did not have to secure their spot through any grueling qualifying rounds. However, as hosts, there is even more pressure on their coach, as nothing but victory will suffice for the team's strong and deservedly demanding fanbase.

The man tasked with this difficult mission is Rogerio Micale, who has been in charge of the team since 2015.

Arguably, the biggest player for Brazil at this summer's tournament will be Neymar. Despite being just 24 years old, the Barcelona superstar is already fifth on Brazil's all-time top goal-scorers list with 46 goals and is currently serving as the nation's captain. After seeing his World Cup end due to an unfortunate back injury, and forgoing the Copa America in lieu of the Olympics, the weight of the entire nation will be firmly on his young shoulders.

Much will be expected of Neymar at the upcoming Olympic Games. Will he insipre his side to their first ever gold medal?

Alongside Neymar will be 17 other players eager to make an impact. Here is the full 18-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Fernando Prass (Palmeiras), Uilson (Atlético Mineiro)

Defenders: Luan (Vasco da Gama), Marquinhos (PSG), Rodrigo Caio (São Paulo), Zeca (Santos), Douglas Santos (Atlético Mineiro), William (Sport Club Internacional)

Midfielders: Felipe Anderson (Lazio), Rafinha (Barcelona), Thiago Maia (Santos), Walace (Grêmio), Rodrigo Dourado (Internacional), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan)

Forwards: Neymar (Barcelona), Gabriel (Santos), Luan (Grêmio), Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras)

KEY STAT: Brazil have featured in 12 out of the past 23 Men's Olympic Football tournaments - record only topped by the USA (who has 13 appearances - but have yet to win gold.

South Africa: Rio 2016 Olympics squad, Players to Watch

Brazil's first opponents will be South Africa. Nicknamed the Amaglug-glug, Owen Da Gama's side first kicked things off with a 4-1 win over Zimbabwe, with Keagan Dolly netting three over the course of the two-legged play-off. At the final tournament in Senegal, they were placed in a quartet with Tunisia, Zambia, and the hosts.

It took a last-gasp goal to beat Tunisia to book their spot in the semi-finals. After losing 2-0 to Algeria, they then had to take on Senegal in the battle for third spot, which headed to spot-kicks after the match ended up finishing as a scoreless stalemate. Phakamani Mahlambi's penalty ended up being the decisive factor to help South Africa earn their first Olympics participation in 16 years after finishing third at the 2015 U-23 AFCON tournament.

Da Gama, who has been in charge of the team since 2014, previously plied his trade as a striker in his native South Africa as well as in Ireland, where he won two titles with Derry City in 1986 and 1987.

The upcoming Olympic games will be Owen Da Gama's first major tournament whilst at the helm of the u-23 side

A key player for South Africa could be 23-year-old Keagan Dolly, who played a huge role in the team securing their spot at the U-23 African Cup of Nations in Senegal. Dolly currently plays his club football for Mamelodi Sundowns and was named the Premier League Young Soccer Player of the Year during the 2013/2014 season.

Dolly scored three out of South Africa's four goals to fire them past Zimbabwe during a qualifying two-legged playoff

Dolly, of course, won't be able to do it all on his own. Here are the 17 other players joining him in Brazil:

Goalkeepers: Jody February (Ajax Cape Town), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)

Defenders: Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Repo Malepe (Orlando Pirates), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Kwandakwensizwa Mngonyama (Maritzburg United), Abbubaker Mobara (Orlando Pirates), Tebogo Moerane (Bidvest Wits)

Midfielders: Menzi Masuku (Orlando Pirates), Sandows (Grêmio), Maphosa Modiba (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Gift Motupa (Orlando Pirates), Phumlani Ntshangase (Bidvest Wits), Deolin Mekoa (Maritzburg United)

Forwards: Mothobi Mvala (Highlands Park), Tashreeq Morris (Ajax Cape Town), Keagan Dolly (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebo Mothiba (Lille)

KEY STAT: South Africa picked up a whopping ten cards during just three matches in their debut Olympics appearance in Sydney in 2000

Iraq: Rio 2016 Olympics squad, Players to Watch

Iraq will be featuring in their first ever Olympic tournament since the 2004 edition in Greece, during which they finished in fourth. Nicknamed the Lions of Mesopotamia, the war-torn nation booked their ticket to Rio after finishing third at the U-23 AFC Championship.

Like South Africa, Iraq's journey to this stage comprised of first securing their spot at their confederation's championship, then navigating their way through all the way to the final stages. First up for them was topping their qualifying quintet. They then finished second in their group at the U-23 AFC tournament, before progressing all the way to the third-placed play-off against hosts Qatar.

It was not easy, but two late goals, including a extra-time effort from Aymen Hussein were enough to seal a 2-1 comeback and earn them a spot in Brazil alongside Japan and South Korea.

The Lions of Mesopotamia will be under the guidance of 48-year-old Abdul-Ghani Shahad, who has been the coach of Iraq's U-23 side since 2015. Earlier this year he also served as a caretaker manager for the senior team until Radhi Shenaishil Swadi took over this past April.

In terms of key players, Udinese's Ali Adnan Khadim - who is the first ever Iraqi player to play in Serie A - could be one to keep an eye on. The 22-year-old has been described as the "Iraqi Roberto Carlos" by his local media and put in some solid displays for the Zebrette during the 2015/2016 campaign.

Ali Adnan Khadim plays as a left-back for Udinese and is one of a few European-based players in the Iraqi squad. He is also the nephew of famed striker Ali Khadim, who was the nation's all-time top goalscorer until this record was broken in 1982

  

Here is Iraq's squad for the tournament:

Goalkeepers: Fahad Talib (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya), Mohammed Hameed (Naft Al-Wasat)

Defenders: Ahmad Ibrahim (Unattached), Hawbir Mustafa (MVV Maastricht), Mustafa Nadhim (Naft Al-Wasat), Ali Faez (Rizespor), Ali Adnan Khadim (Udinese), Saad Natiq (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya), Dhurgham Ismail (Rizespor), Alaa Ali Mhawi (Al-Zawraa)

Midfielders: Mahdi Kamel (Al- Shorta), Ali Husni (Rizespor), Humam Tariq (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya), Saad Abdul-Amir (Al-Qadisiyah), Amjad Attwan (Al-Shorta)

Forwards: Hammadi Ahmad (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya), Mohannad Abdul-Raheem (Al-Zawraa), Sherko Karim (Grasshopper)

KEY STAT: Iraq scored 27 goals en route to Rio, which was the most out of any side from their region featuring this summer in Brazil. 

Denmark: Rio 2016 Olympics squad, Players to Watch

Denmark finished top of their quartet at the 2015 U-21 UEFA Championship - despite suffering a heavy 3-0 loss to Germany in their second group stage game. Following that, Niels Frederiksen's lads ended up losing 4-1 to Nordic rivals Sweden, but given that Europe get four spots - or exactly 25 per cent of the 16 teams featuring - they nonetheless were able to get a berth alongside familiar foes Germany and Sweden.

Frederiksen, who has a degree in economics, has been in charge of the U-21 side since 2015. He assumed the post in August of last year, two weeks after being sacked from his position with Danish Superliga side Esbjerg fB.

Here is the 18-man squad for Denmark:

Goalkeepers: Jeppe Højbjerg (FC Fredericia), Lukas Fernandes (SønderjyskE)

Defenders: Ediegerson Gomes (Henan Jianye), Pascal Gregor (Nordsjaelland), Kasper Larsen (Groningen), Blabjerg Mathiasen (Aalborg), Mikkel Desler (Odense)

Midfielders: Jens Jonsson (Aarhus), Andreas Maxso (Nordsjaelland), Casper Nielsen (Esbjerg), Vigen Christensen (Fulham)

Forwards: Frederik Borsting (Aalborg), Nicolai Brock-Madsen (Birmingham City), Emil Larsen (Lyngby), Yurary Poulsen (Leipzig), Robert Skov (Silkeborg), Lasse Vibe (Brentford), Manich Bech (Hannover)

KEY STAT: In 1908, Denmark thrashed France 17-1. To date, this is the highest-scoring match at any Olympic football tournament.

Group A fixtures and analysis

The first match will take place on August 4th at the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha featuring Iraq and Denmark, followed by hosts Brazil taking on South Africa. In fact, all but two of Group A's games will be played at the same stadium. The only exceptions will be the matches played on August 10th, with the game between Brazil and Denmark taking place at the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova whilst Iraq and South Africa will clash at the Arena Corinthians.

Below you will find specific viewing information and times for your current location:
 

Match details, result and original broadcast info

Iraq 0 - 0 Denmark

August 4, 2016 12:00pmMané Garrincha Stadium, Brasilia

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Brazil 0 - 0 South Africa

August 4, 2016 3:00pmMané Garrincha Stadium, Brasilia

This match has ended. Below are the original Live broadcast details for this match.

Live TV coverage and streaming in United States

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Denmark 1 - 0 South Africa

August 7, 2016 6:00pmMané Garrincha Stadium, Brasilia

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Brazil 0 - 0 Iraq

August 7, 2016 9:00pmMané Garrincha Stadium, Brasilia

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Denmark 0 - 4 Brazil

August 10, 2016 9:00pmFonte Nova Arena, Salvador

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South Africa 1 - 1 Iraq

August 10, 2016 9:00pmCorinthians Arena, São Paulo

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Live TV coverage and streaming in United States

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