Soccer-Five to watch at the Tokyo Olympics

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(Reuters) – Five footballers to watch at the Tokyo Olympics:

CARLI LLOYD (UNITED STATES)

One of the all-time greats of women’s football, Lloyd will be 39 at the start of the tournament and a late-career regain of form gave her the chance to win a third gold after her successes in 2008 and 2012 .

The striker scored one of the most memorable goals in women’s football history with a spectacular halfway line effort as part of a hat-trick in the first 16 minutes of the 2015 World Cup final victory against Japan.

Lloyd has spent most of the successful 2019 World Cup campaign on the bench, but has returned from a 10-month layoff after knee surgery and looks ready for Tokyo.

MOHAMED SALAH (EGYPT)

Unsurprisingly, Egypt are desperate to include the best player from the Arab world among the three major players on their squad for Tokyo.

Winner of the Champions League and the Premier League with Liverpool, the participation of the 29-year-old is not yet assured, talks continuing with his club.

If he gets the green light, Group C opponents Spain, Argentina and Australia will have to contend with his skillful touch, smart moves and, most importantly, his sense of goal.

MANA IWABUCHI (JAPAN)

A World Cup winner with Japan in 2011, the 28-year-old former Bayern Munich striker recently joined Arsenal but will focus on her role with “Nadeshiko” first.

Iwabuchi has scored 34 goals in 76 appearances for Japan and if the host nation is to win any medals they will need their experienced striker to be in top form.

LUKAS NMECHA (GERMANY)

The 22-year-old striker won the golden shoe and scored the game-winning goal in this year’s UEFA Under-21 tournament final and is key to Germany’s hopes at the Games.

The Hamburg-born striker grew up in England and was part of the Manchester City academy system, but spent last season on loan at Belgian club Anderlecht.

Nmecha, who can operate centrally or broadly, represented England at age group level until his move to Germany in March 2019. He made his debut against England.

GERSON (BRAZIL)

When Flamengo won the 2019 Copa Libertadores and back-to-back Brazilian league titles in 2019 and 2020, the quick-witted Gerson was the heart of a character-filled midfielder.

The calm 24-year-old was perhaps the Rio de Janeiro club’s most underrated player, but his contribution was crucial in helping them live through their greatest plight as Zico and Junior ruled the roost.

Gerson, unrelated to the 1970 World Cup legend, had returned to Flamengo after a disappointing stint in Italy with Roma and Fiorentina. He quickly regained his marks and his impressive performances over two successful years earned him another chance to prove himself in Europe. He left Flamengo in June to join French club Olympique de Marseille.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, additional reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford)


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