OLYMPIC FOOTBALL


Superstar Ronaldinho on Wednesday singled out Argentina as the main threat to Brazil winning Olympic gold, and warned his teammates they cannot afford to lose their focus.

The 28-year-old is one of coach Dunga's over-age players for the Olympics after his new club AC Milan gave the go-ahead for him to take part, and he is lapping up the experience.

"Everyone has been so friendly to us it's amazing. Now it's our turn to repay them for their warmth and hospitality by performing well on the pitch," he told Fifa.com.

If Brazil win their group and quarter-final matches they are scheduled to meet Argentina in the semis, and Ronaldinho is well aware of the threat they pose.

"There's no doubt that Argentina are an excellent side who deserve all my respect," he said.

"They've got some world class players and we know all about them. But we've also got our strengths and we deserve respect from everyone."

But less than 24 hours before their opening matches, the South Americans were still in the dark about their line-ups

The football competition kicks off on Thursday and it appears unlikely that Argentina will have Lionel Messi in their side after his club Barcelona won an appeal Wednesday to keep him out of the Games.

The Spanish giants were reluctant to let 21-year-old play, arguing that Olympic matches are not part of the international calendar, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in their favour.

The verdict also affects Brazil's Diego and Rafinha, who play with Germany's Werder Bremen and Schalke respectively and who are currently with the Olympic team.

"Our expectation is to advance as far as we can in the tournament and reach the semi-finals," said Ronaldinho.

"We can't afford to lose our focus, though, and we need to take things step by step."

Brazil open their campaign against Belgium in Shenyang.

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