Just over a year after winning the UEFA U-21 European Championships, Sweden will open its Olympic men’s soccer tournament against Colombia Thursday night in Manaus at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on USA Network. The match can also be streamed at NBCOlympics.com and on the NBC Sports app.
Of the 11 players in the starting lineup for Sweden’s win over Portugal in last summer’s U-21 European Championship final three are on the roster headed to Rio, including fullback Alexander Milosevic and midfielders Abdul Khailili and Simon Tibbling. Midfielder Robin Quiason, who was a substitute in that match, is also on the squad. Khalili is one of three overage players representing Sweden, with Milosević (who plays his club soccer at Beşiktaş) and captain Astrit Ajdarević being the others.
Colombia’s path to Rio included the need to play a two-legged playoff against the United States, as they finished second in last January’s South American Youth Championships in Uruguay. Among the players on their roster is Sporting forward Teo Gutierrez, who was also a member of Colombia’s 2014 World Cup team. Gutierrez, elected captain of the Olympic Team, is one of just two players who play their club soccer outside of Colombia. Five players represent Atletico Nacional at the club level, including goalkeeper Cristian Bonilla who made his senior club debut at just 16 years old in 2009.
Also in Group B are Nigeria and Japan, with the former having a host of issues to deal with before finally arriving in Manaus Thursday afternoon.