Author Topic: Germany's Neid expects women's Olympic tournament to be tougher than World Cup  (Read 977 times)

Offline David

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Germany coach Silvia Neid heads to Beijing expecting the women's Olympic football tournament to be harder to win than the World Cup.

Germany won a consecutive World Cup title last year in China, but it is yet to win the Olympic gold.

"Almost every team can win a medal," Neid told The Associated Press by e-mail Friday. "There are only 12 teams in the competition compared to 16 in the World Cup. And those teams are the best in the world. You have to be in the tournament from the very first minute. No weaknesses are allowed otherwise you will be out of the competition faster than you think."

The Germans will debut against Brazil on Aug. 6 in Shenyang in a rematch of the World Cup final. It will then play Nigeria on Aug. 9 and North Korea on Aug. 13.

"The United States, Brazil, Norway, Korea, Sweden, China and our team are strong contenders for gold," Neid said. "But you also have to watch for teams like Nigeria and Ghana, you should not be surprised if they come far in the tournament."

The United States is trying to win its third Olympic gold in four tournaments, while Brazil — led by FIFA player of the year Marta — was runner-up in last year's World Cup and in the Olympics four years ago. Norway won the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Germany, the defending European champion, did not allow a single goal on its way to the World Cup title last year.

"I hope that we will have (the World Cup) spirit again during the Olympics," Neid said. "It will be a big challenge to win a medal. This will be a tough competition."

Since the women's football tournament debuted in the Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta, Germany won bronze in Sydney and in Athens, losing to Norway and the United States in the semifinals, respectively.

The Germans, ranked second to the United States in FIFA's rankings, will face England and Norway in warmup matches this month before heading to Beijing.

Neid said the team's biggest strength in China will be "team effort," but she also admits it has its weaknesses.

"But I am not going to name them," said the 44-year-old Neid, who has a contract with the German federation through the 2013 European Championship. "To find them out is the homework our opponents have to do."

The women's tournament, which was increased from 10 to 12 teams in 2008, begins two days before the opening ceremony to accommodate its lengthy schedule.