Tommy Smith prepares to face �100m of Brazilian attacking talent
TOMMY Smith today faces his toughest test in football when he comes face-to-face with a mouthwatering �100million of Brazilian attacking talent.
The Ipswich Town centre-back must find a way to stop Neymar, Alexandre Pato and Hulk if New Zealand are to have any chance of progressing into the last eight of the London 2012 football tournament.
After a defeat to Belarus and a draw with Egypt, only a win will give the Oly-Whites any chance of progressing and continuing Smith’s Olympic dream.
But standing in his way is the Samba magic of Barcelona target Neymar, who already has two goals and two assists to his name, not to mention AC Milan striker Pato and Porto’s Hulk.
That is quite some task facing the 22-year-old, with the enviable front three being served by Chelsea’s new �25m playmaker Oscar pulling the strings behind them.
Brazil have already booked their place in the quarter-finals but whoever they start with, Smith is expecting his toughest challenge yet at Newcastle’s St James’ Park this afternoon (2.30pm).
The Town man said: “It is going to be another great experience for me – especially as a centre-half playing against that calibre of players.
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“Brazil are the stand-out team, there is no doubt about that. They have a great pedigree with their young players and I want to test myself against them and see how far I have come.
“To have played in both the World Cup and now the Olympics is another great sporting achievement for me personally.”
Defeat for Smith would end his Olympics and could even see him challenge for his first pre-season appearance for Ipswich in Saturday’s home match against West Ham.
Luke Chambers and Damien Delaney have played every minute of pre-season together so far but Smith should get his chance to stake his claim either at the weekend or in next week’s final friendly game at Colchester United.
Dave Gooderham will be at St James’ Park to see Smith battle the Brazilians. Follow @davegoods on Twitter for all the reports and reaction.