Olympic footballers head to HK
Netherlands, Cameroon, USA, and Ivory Coast will contest a pre-Games tournament.
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2008 07:47 GMT
USA's Freddie Adu could be one of the stars at the Beijing Olympic Games [GALLO/GETTY]

Some of the world's top young football stars are heading to Hong Kong to represent their countries at a pre-Olympic football tournament in preparation for August's Beijing Games.

Chelsea's Salomon Kalou, Real Madrid's Royston Drenthe and Liverpool's Ryan Babel are among the big names, along with American teenage phenomenon Freddy Adu and Feyenoord's Roy Makaay, whose exploits for Bayern Munich made him one of Europe's most feared strikers.

They will play for their countries - Netherlands, Cameroon, USA, and Ivory Coast, at the ING Cup from July 30 to August 2 as their final preparation for the Beijing Olympics.

"Olympic fever is truly kicking in, so we expect great crowds at the Hong Kong Stadium on both days," Brian Leung, Hong Kong Football Association chairman, said.

"The Netherlands, Cameroon, USA and Ivory Coast will be among the strongest teams in China and feature many world-class players."

The Dutch are one of the favourites for the Olympic crown, having won back-to-back Uefa Under-21 Championship titles in 2006 and 2007.

As well as Drenthe and Babel, Foppe de Haan's squad features Valencia's Hedwiges Maduro, PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal, and Makaay, who is included as one of their three over-age players.

Lions set to roar

Cameroon's Indomitable Lions have a strong pedigree at the Olympics, having won gold at Sydney 2000.

This year's squad includes 20-year-old Alex Song, one of Arsene Wenger's exciting young talents at Arsenal and the nephew of Rigobert Song, Cameroon's most capped player.

Defender Andre Bikey, whose impressive performances for Reading led to his inclusion in the senior squad for the African Cup of Nations, is also included.

Ivory Coast's best-known Olympic player is 22-year-old Kalou, who has played the last two seasons with Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba, his national captain at senior level.

One player who could prove to be a star of the Olympics is 19-year-old American Adu, who joined Portuguese club Benfica last August.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
With social media dominating communication among young Americans, taunting is no longer confined to school hours.
Referendum on Scottish independence is the first major election in the UK where 16 and 17-year olds get a vote.
join our mailing list