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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Reds' Babel enjoys Olympic warm-up run-out

Liverpool winger Ryan Babel is confident he is close to full fitness after inspiring Holland to a 2-0 victory over Cameroon in a pre-Olympic tournament in Hong Kong. The 21-year-old tore ankle ligaments while in training with the Dutch senior team in May and was ruled out of Euro 2008. He was also expected to be sidelined for the start of the Premier League season. However, Babel recovered sooner than anticipated but upset Reds boss Rafael Benitez when he decided to represent his country at the Olympics. The former Ajax player looked in fine form as he came from the bench to score one and set up another for strike partner Roy Makaay at Hong Kong stadium. 'It is doing okay,' Babel said of his ankle. 'I didn't have any moments throughout the game when it felt bad. It is definitely getting better. 'Last week I would say I was at about 85% fitness and it has been difficult but it feels better. 'I think one more match and I will be ready for the Olympics.' Babel was introduced as a second half substitute yesterday and lined up alongside Dutch veteran Makaay in attack - the first time the two had been paired together. 'We worked well together but also those around us in midfield play well,' added Babel. 'It was a good team effort and a deserved victory.' Holland coach Foppe de Haan, meanwhile, believes Babel's impressive display has justified his decision to take part in the Olympics rather than continue his pre-season preparations with Liverpool. 'Babel is a good guy, he is very grown up and he knows what he wants,' said the 65-year-old. 'Liverpool didn't want him to play but Babel really wanted to come and play in the Olympics. 'It is good for all concerned because if he plays well in the Olympics then he will go back to Liverpool a better player.' Holland will play Ivory Coast in their final game of the ING Cup on Saturday before travelling to China for the Olympics.

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