LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Brazilian superstar Neymar (11) is consoled by teammate Romulo after losing their gold medal match against Mexico at Wembley Stadiumin London. Brazil could not break its notorious streak of never winning a gold medal in men’s Olympic football. REUTERS photo
Brazil coach Mano Menezes insists he doesn’t deserve to be sacked after his side’s Olympic final defeat against Mexico because they will use the painful memory to win the 2014 World Cup.
Menezes faces a fight to hang onto his job after Brazil’s latest attempt to win Olympic gold ended in humiliation after a lackluster 2-1 loss to underdogs Mexico at Wembley on Aug. 11.
The five-time world champion has now lost in three finals at the Games after previous failures in 1984 and 1988, but this defeat was especially painful as Brazil
was desperate to secure gold after watching archrivals Argentina win the last two Olympic tournaments.
Brazil’s strangely lackluster performance reflected badly on Menezes, with Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva guilty of surrendering possession in the lead-up to Oribe Peralta’s opening goal after just 30 seconds.
The whole back four were guilty of poor marking when Peralta headed the decisive second goal in the 75th minute.
Although substitute Hulk got one back in stoppage-time, the enduring memory of Brazil’s Olympic campaign will be Rafael and team-mate Juan exchanging angry words in the closing stages as the reality of their failure hit home.
Scolari may return
With Menezes’s critics back in Brazil
already whispering in recent months that former Seleçao boss Luis Felipe Scolari should be hired in time to lead the World Cup build-up, Menezes knows he faces a rough ride on his return home.
But he appealed to Brazil’s football federation chiefs not to be panicked into sacking him in the hunt for an Olympic scapegoat.
“Any coach must be ready to suffer the consequences of their results,” Menezes said.
“Even when teams win tournaments people (in Brazil) don’t always praise the coach so imagine what it is like when you lose.
“But defeat in one match should not have a decisive influence. Had we won that would not have solved all of our problems either. Lessons must be learned from every match.”
While the likes of Neymar, Oscar and Leandro Damiao combined well en route to the final, they played as individuals on the big occasion and Menezes acknowledged that his side, largely made up of under-23 players, had shown a lack of experience. But he is convinced they will emerge from the defeat as much stronger characters when Brazil
host the World Cup in two years.
“We are very sorry not to get Olympic gold but 2014 remains our goal,” Menezes said. “We will continue on our path to the next World Cup when we will be able to call on our main team.
“The important thing is the right corrections are made so the next time we can win.
“In terms of the maturing of the team I don’t think it will have an impact. You learn from defeats as well as victories.” In stark contrast to Brazil’s misery, there was joy unconfined from the Mexicans after their first Olympic gold medal success in the men’s tournament.
Mexico’s previous best performance at the Games was a fourth place finish in 1968, while they had never been past the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
But coach Luis Fernando Tena has cleverly moulded a vibrant young group that had already enjoyed success at several international youth tournaments and he believes it could the beginning of a golden era.
“It’s a very important moment for Mexican football,” he said. “Our youngsters think more optimistically, they have left behind the old complexes. They look towards the future like conquistadors.
“This has been the highest point of my career. I dedicate it to my (late) father. He is still kicking a ball up in heaven. To sing the national anthem with a gold medal around your neck is priceless, and winning on the sacred pitch of Wembley makes it even more special.”