Brazil will not defend its Olympic men’s football title in Paris after losing 1-0 to its regional rival Argentina on Sunday.
In the decisive South American Olympic qualifier, Luciano Gondou scored the winner for the Argentina under-23 team coached by Javier Mascherano. He headed a cross from Valentin Barco past goalkeeper Mycael in the 78th minute at the Brigido Iriarte Stadium in Caracas.
Brazil won gold at men’s football in the Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo Olympics.
South America’s Olympic qualifying for men’s football offers two spots in Paris 2024, with the remaining berth to be decided later Sunday when Paraguay and Venezuela face off. Argentina finished its final group stage campaign with five points in three matches and cannot be overtaken by the other teams.
Argentina had the upper hand in the first half but the defensive stance of Brazil, coached by Ramon Menezes, didn’t help bring much emotion to the match. World Cup winner Thiago Almada hit the post in the 16th minute.
Argentina’s Leandro Brey made the best save of the game in the 61st, when substitute Gabriel Pec struck hard from close range. Brazil did not keep up the pressure, with striker Endrick once more playing below par. And then Gondou’s header made the difference between the two teams.
“We deserved this. We didn’t lose a single match at the qualifying,” said Gondou, who scored four goals in the tournament in Venezuela. “We suffered, we waited for this goal, but at the end we got it.”
Brazil last failed to make the men’s football Olympic tournament in 2004.
“It is a very bad feeling, we prepared well for this,” Brazil midfielder Andrey Santos said. “We struggled to keep the ball throughout the tournament. It didn’t go as we expected.”
Argentina won the gold at men’s football at the games in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, with Lionel Messi leading the team in Beijing.
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