Despite a performance desperately short of cohesion and conviction in their warm-up game against Brazil, Great Britain’s men football team are rated 4/6 favourites to get their Olympic campaign off to a winning start against Senegal.
Senegal’s chances can easily be discredited after their final preparatory friendly ended in a shocking 3-0 defeat to South Korea, however they carry a far greater threat than that performance suggested.
They have faced the two other European participants in warm-up matches over the past fortnight and impressed against both, beating perceived gold-medal contenders Spain 2-0 and a Switzerland side given dark-horse billing 1-0.
Senegal haven’t included many of their most recognised attacking talents in their 18-man squad, like Newcastle duo Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, Moussa Sow and veteran Mamadou Niang.
However, three of their forward picks have senior international caps and the Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Moussa Konate was their hero in the recent victory over Switzerland.
This is Senegal’s Olympic men’s football debut but they can take plenty of encouragement from the success of other CAF teams in the competition.
Whereas African nations have yet to serious threaten to lift a World Cup, the last five Olympics have produced two gold medallists (Nigeria in 1996 and Cameroon in 2000), a silver medallist (Nigeria in 2008) and a bronze (Ghana in 1992).
Great Britain backers might expect home advantage to overcome the obstacle of being the least prepared entrants in terms of experience and fluidity as a unit.
There is no guarantee that they will flourish against a decent Senegal side with proven stars like Metalist defender Papa Gueye and West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame.
The last four host nations have failed to win their opener, the only two to avoid losing doing so with an equaliser in the final ten minutes of their fixture.
As a result, Senegal to score first at 2/1, the draw or Senegal triumph double chance at slightly greater than 11/10 and even perhaps three points for the outsiders at 9/2 stand out as appetising bets.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.