Hosts Brazil are struggling in men’s football with two goalless matches as against their women counterparts, who have already ensured the quarterfinal berth for themselves by winning back-to-back games. The performance of the team under Neymar is causing frustration to the fans and all they are getting are boos and jeers, when they play. The fans seem resigned to the scenario, where Marta could bring glory to Brazil while Neymar and his boys manufacture an early elimination. Among men, Portugal and Nigeria have won their two matches and have secured places in the play-offs. Nigerians have fought heavy personal odds before a late arrival in Brazil but that didn’t deter them from performing solidly in the field. In women’s football, Brazil are joined by reigning Olympic champion USA and Canada in the last eight while nine teams will now fight for the remaining five places on Tuesday.
Fans are frustrated with Brazilian men footballers. Before the tournament began, the host nation had pinned its hopes on Neymar Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Barbosa, the three were touted as dangerous trinity, who can strike gold for Brazil at Rio. But with Brazil not getting past their opponents in the two matches against South Africa and Iraq, a solitary goal for the Brazilian now holds more value than gold. In Sunday’s second match against Iraq, Brazil were expected to play to gallery but all they brought was disappointment. For the second straight game, Neymar played below par and young striker Jesus and Barbosa failed to show their much-touted skills. Brazil shot 20 times on the goal but only 6 such attempts were on target. None of them, however, could strike the net. Their best chance came in the second-half injury time, when midfielder Renato Augusto couldn’t shoot into the goal with goalkeeper already beaten. Brazil now play Denmark on Wednesday in a must-win game to keep themselves in contention for the knock-out stage.
Brave-hearts Nigerians were the first team to advance to the quarterfinals, when they defeated Sweden 1-0 at Manaus. The team suffered an ordeal before they could land in the jungle city of Manaus on August 4 because of problems at Atlanta airport. There were payment issues for their flight and finally they needed to travel in a small plane before arriving only a few hours ahead of their first match with Japan on Thursday. Regardless, the Super-Eagles fired five goals into the Japanese net and though four goals were scored against them, they finished the 5-4 winners in the end. On Sunday, they won their second match 1-0 against Sweden and ensured their place in the quarterfinals. Besides Nigeria, Portugal also won their second match 2-1 against Honduras at Rio de Janeiro and sealed their quarterfinal berth. At Salvador, 2012 champion Mexico defeated Fiji 5-1 with midfielder Erick Gutierrez scoring 4 goals. Argentina defeated Algeria 2-1 to record their first win and Denmark defeated South Africa 2-1 in Brasilia. Germany and Korea drew 3-3 in an entertaining game at Salvador. In another match at Manaus, Japan and Colombia finished with a 2-2 draw.
As it stands now, Fiji and Algeria have made their exits with two consecutive losses and Nigeria and Portugal are through to the play-off stage. Thus, the fight for remaining 6 quarterfinal places will be among 12 countries and Wednesday’s games are crucial.
In women’s tournament, Brazil USA and Canada have already sealed their quarterfinal berths with two victories each in their first two games. Now the battle for the last five places will be among the 9 remaining teams with all of them having their chances. On Saturday, Canada defeated Zimbabwe 3-1; USA beat France 1-0 and Brazil routed Sweden 5-1 to advance to the second stage of the tournament. But in other results, Germany drew 2-2 with Australia; China beat South Africa 2-0 and New Zealand defeated Colombia 1-0. Tuesday’s games will decide the remaining quarterfinalists, when Australia take on Zimbabwe, Germany meet Canada, Colombia play against USA, New Zealand square up with France, hosts Brazil meet South Africa and China play against Sweden. For the hosts, the 5-1 victory against Sweden had their superstar Marta scoring twice; once in the 44th minute and against in the 80th through a penalty. Beatriz also scored two goals in the 21st and 86th minutes while Cristiane scored in 24th minutes. Sweden scored the consolation goal one minute before the final whistle.
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