Honduras U23 and Romania U23 will trade tackles at the Kashima Soccer Stadium on Thursday in the men's football tournament at Tokyo 2020.
This will be Romania's first appearance at the Olympic football tournament since they secured a fifth-place finish in the 1964 edition. The Eastern Europeans played consecutive draws with Saudi Arabia in their final preparatory friendlies for the competition.
Honduras U23 made it all the way to the semifinals of the 2016 Olympic Games before losing to Nigeria in the third-place playoff game.
They played out an impressive 1-1 draw with Germany U23 in their most recent friendly. However, the game was mired in controversy and ended prematurely due to alleged racial abuse.
South Korea and New Zealand are the other teams in Group B and they will all battle it out for the two qualification spots on offer.
Honduras U23 vs Romania U23 Head-to-Head
This will be the first meeting between the sides at this level and they will each be looking to kickstart their tournament on a positive note.
Romania won just one of their four preparatory friendlies heading into this tournament. Honduras have not tasted victory since their 2-1 win over USA in the semifinals of the 2020 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship.
Honduras U23 form guide: D-L-D-W-D
Romania U23 form guide: D-D-W-L
Honduras U23 vs Romania U23 Team News
Honduras announced their final 22-man squad on 2 July. Boavista forward Jorge Benguche and Brayan Moya are the two over-aged players in the squad.
Romania initially released their final squad on 1 July but Dragos Nedelcu withdrew in order to complete a transfer and was replaced by Ronaldo Deaconu.
Midfielder Tudor Baluta has been ruled out of the fixture with a leg injury.
Injury: Tudor Baluta
Honduras U23 vs Romania U23 Predicted XI
Honduras U23 Predicted XI (4-3-3): Alex Guity (GK); Denil Maldonado, Carlos Melendez, Wesly Decas, Cristopher Melendez; Jonathan Nunez, Edwin Rodriguez, Samuel Elvir; Rigoberto Rivas, Jorge Benguche, Brayan Moya
Romania U23 Predicted XI (4-3-3): Mihal Popa (GK); Radu Boboc, Alex Pascanu, Florin Stefan, Virgil Ghita; Marius Marin, Andrei Ciobanu, Eduard Florescu; Andrei Sintean, George Ganea, Valentin Gheorge
Honduras U23 vs Romania U23 Prediction
The two sides are fairly evenly matched and can each get the job done. The fact that this is the first match for both sides means that neither manager will go all-out in attack.
They each have compact defenses and this could translate into a cagey and low-scoring affair. We are predicting a share of the spoils with goals to be scored at both ends.
Prediction: Honduras U23 1-1 Romania U23
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