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Original Issue

Good Bloodlines

soccer player is eligible, so long as he hasn't represented a
national team in a World Cup final-round game. And from every other
country, even World Cup veterans are allowed. None of this much
affects the U.S. team, which will play its first- round games in
Group C -- the toughest of the four four-team groups -- whose other
members are the Soviet Union, Argentina and South Korea. Two from
each group will advance to the quarterfinals, and one would have to
be a star- spangled optimist to expect the U.S. team to make any
progress. The Soviets should, though, with 25-year-old midfielder
Alexei Mikhailichenko, perhaps the best player in the Games. It's
difficult to make an early judgment of Argentina's team -- all of its
best-known players are World Cup-eliminated -- but this will be a
squad of young talent with excellent bloodlines. And the South
Koreans -- tough, fast and playing in front of home crowds -- will be
very hard to eliminate.
Group A? The choices are West Germany and Sweden over Tunisia and
China. In the otherwise soft Group B, it would be shocking if the
Italians didn't progress. Who will go along? We say Iraq, over Zambia
and Guatemala. Group D is toughest to call. Australia lacks
experience. Brazil also has a young team, but its tradition is worth
a goal a game. Yugoslavia, too, has the strength of heritage. Nigeria
could surprise.
Italy is the best bet for gold, but watch out for the U.S.S.R.,
West Germany and Brazil. -- C.G.