Make or break for Brazil

NeymarOLYMPIC host, Brazil, faces a calamitous first round elimination tonight if they fail to account for Denmark in their third Group A game at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in the capital Brasilia.

Brazil last Sunday night drew blank with Iraq, leaving them with only two points from their first two games, having earlier been held to the same result by 10-man South Africa on the opening day of the football competition.

Deemed as one of the favourites for the tournament, the Neymar-led South Americans know they must beat group leaders Denmark today to avoid a stunning exit, just two years after their devastating 7-1 World Cup defeat by Germany on home soil.

Neymar and Gabriel Jesus, the towering stars of the show, failed to come to the party in the Iraq game and were roundly subjected to loud jeers from fans, paying for their profligacy in front of goal.

They know they cannot afford to slumber this time around.

Neymar, in particular, has come under torrid pressure from the Brazilian press as he has been labelled “greedy,” whilst others teasingly called for his replacement, interestingly opting for his compatriot Martha who is making things tick for the Brazilian women team.

Importantly, the hosts know all-too well the danger ahead of them should they falter in their final group game.

“We weren’t in good shape, and I tried my best but luck was not on my side,” said Augusto after the match on Sunday.

“We have to win the third game, otherwise we may be eliminated from the tournament,” he told the media.

Against Denmark, Brazil is sure to find a well-knit, strong and disciplined outfit that beat South Africa 1-0 to hop straight to the top of the summit on four points. A draw for Denmark will see them through to the quarter final stage – and this is what red-eye Brazil would be fighting hard to avert.

Iraq, unbeaten in two games, can also book a historic Olympic quarter final berth if they manage to upstage South Africa in the other Group A game.

Meanwhile, Nigeria are making Africans proud here as they edged out Sweden 1-0 last Sunday to book their name in the knockouts. The west African side, gold medallists in the Atlanta ’96 Games, had beaten Japan 5-4 in a thrilling encounter earlier and will close out Group B play with Colombia in Sao Paulo tonight, while Sweden have a must-win match ahead against Japan in Salvador if they are going to continue their Rio 2016 journey.

From John Vigah, Rio de Janeiro

 

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